Wildlife Viewing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to an amazingly diverse variety of animals! Plan a visit to find out what wildlife in the Smoky Mountains you might spot in one of the largest protected areas in the Eastern United States. From the majestic elk roaming the meadows to the elusive black bears foraging in the forests, the Smokies offer you the opportunity of a lifetime to witness wildlife in its natural habitat.

Some Animals to See in the Smokies

There are over 65 species of mammals, more than 200 varieties of birds, 67 native fish species, and more than 80 types of reptiles and amphibians that call The Smokies home. This incredible diversity comes as a result of the various ecosystems present in the park. Different elevations, climates, and habitats appeal to different animals. When you visit, you might see white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, raccoons, and various small mammals. Bring your binoculars to feast your eyes on the Pileated Woodpecker, the Scarlet Tanager, and the Peregrine Falcon.

Best Spots for Wildlife Viewing

Cades Cove and Cataloochee Valley are particularly known for their easily accessible meadows where elk and white-tailed deer are frequently seen, especially at dawn and dusk. The quiet walkways and nature trails near the Sugarlands and Oconaluftee visitor centers also provide opportunities for close encounters with the park’s smaller mammals, like chipmunks and squirrels.

Watch Responsibly

It’s advised that you keep a safe distance from animals, use binoculars or telephoto lenses for up-close views, and never feed or approach wildlife. By taking these precautions, you can keep yourself, others, and the animals safe.

Seasonal Variations in Wildlife Activity

If you visit the Smokies during springtime, you might be able to see newborn animals and plenty of bird activity. Summer is ideal for spotting black bears and watching fireflies light up the night in early June. Fall’s mating season is a spectacular time to hear the bugling of elk, while winter’s bare trees and snow-covered landscapes make it easier to spot animals against the bright, snowy valleys.

Increasing Your Odds of Wildlife Watching

Arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon for the best chances of sightings. Quiet observation and patience are key, as animals are more likely to appear in undisturbed settings. Ranger-led programs offer guided wildlife viewing and provide insights into the park’s ecology and animal behaviors.

Stay Near the Park

Fully immerse yourself in the wildlife viewing experience, with a vacation rental provided by Mighty Tree Properties. Reach out to Mighty Tree Properties today when planning your wildlife viewing adventure in the Smokies.