Best Places To See Wildlife in the Smokies

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Black bear, woodchucks, wild turkeys, deer, woollybear, owls, salamanders, hellbender salamanders, robins, hawks, eagles, sparrows, cranes, geese, ducks, frogs, woodpeckers, doves, snakes, turtles, raccoons, red foxes, elk, lizards, anoles, skinks, chipmunks, warblers, ravens, crows, gray wolf, red wolf, otter, falcons, eagles… these are just SOME of the wildlife the Smoky Mountains are famous for having and famous for enticing visitors to come and see. Because so much of the National park areas are ingrained and interspersed across civilization in Sevier County and surrounding counties, there’s a decent chance you’ll be able to spot some of our quadropedal or avian wild neighbors near the areas you’re interested in seeing during your Smoky Mountain getaway.

And for those of you who want to up those chances of seeing Smoky Mountain Wildlife and bring back pictures of critters you don’t have in your neighborhoods, we present this article where we can direct you to places that are practically sure to a see a few or more of the animals we listed above. Let’s look:

The Hiking Trails 

Naturally (and that’s a pun here), the best places to see Smoky Mountain wildlife is to go out into the National Park and explore the woods (on the marked trails, mind you) where you get to co-mingle with nature at its most naked. On the hiking trails, you might see dozens of varieties of birds, deer, chipmunks, squirrels, salamanders (the Smokies are known for the huge variety of salamanders we have here!), raccoons, and, yes, the black bears we are famous for. Remember that if you are in proximity of wildlife that you are only to view and take pictures, do not get into their spaces – for your safety and theirs. See more on the hiking trails 


Ober Gatlinburg’s Wildlife Habitat 

With so many awesome things to note about Ober Gatlinburg, the fact that they have a lovely wildlife habitat, called the “Wildlife Encounter”, can often get buried in their list of attractions. The Wildlife Encounter allows visitors to see bears, otters, flying squirrels, turtles, snakes, bobcats, skunks, raccoon, birds of prey, reptiles and more in an environment that is slightly more open than a zoo-type environment. Definitely guaranteed to get some great animal pictures here! See more on the Wildlife Encounter.


 

Cades Cove 

The jewel of the Townsend side of the Smoky Mountains is the motor tour of Cades Cove. Cades Cove is hard to summarize in a relatively small information entry because it offers an incredible amount of Smoky Mountain wonder for visitors to take in, including nature views, historical buildings, walking trails, and more. The wildlife you can expect to see here include coyotes, white-tailed deer, black bear, raccoon, turkeys, woodchucks and possibly even elk.  See more on Cades Cove  


Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail 

Another driving nature trail but this time in Gatlinburg, Roaring Fork is another splendid chance to see a variety of Smoky Mountain goodness – thick, lush forest, waterfalls and rushing stream, trailheads for hiking and the very good chance you might get to see bears, deer, birds of prey, raccoon, and the others mentioned above. See more on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail . 


BONUS:

Rainforest Adventures

Can’t have an article on where to see awesome animals in the Smokies without mentioning Rainforest Adventures. While this is not a Smoky Mountain animal habitat area like Ober Gatlinburg above, it’s well worth the visit all the same. Loads and loads of exotic animals in one neat little attraction just off the main parkway in Sevierville that includes kinkajous, servals, porcupines, lemurs, coatimundis, parrots, parakeets, caiman, turtles, tortoises, chinchillas, many types of snakes and, yes, more. See more on Rainforest Adventures 


Dollywood 

Dollywood needs no introduction and it is included here because they have, on-park, a very respectable bird sanctuary with the Wings of America Show Birds attraction. You get to see many raptor birds that are tame and used to seeing crowds as well as a huge bald eagle sanctuary. See more on Dollywood