We had our first bear stories of the season a couple weeks ago! The last of a rather mild winter seems to be fading, and the Great Smoky Mountains are beginning to burst into bloom–the final salute to the returning Black Bears. Black bears with cubs born in January often leave their winter den in late March or early April. They are most active in early morning and late evening hours, but in Gatlinburg it isn’t uncommon to see a bear run across the East Parkway in the middle of the day.
The wonder of seeing an American Black Bear still startles me. I dislike cleaning up the mess when they’ve found an accessible dumpster or unprotected garbage can, but I find myself smiling all the while. And while no one who has ever had to replace a car window because they left food in their car while hiking is happy about the cost of glass repair, most will tell you they feel privileged to share the same space.
Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains host many great places for bear sightings. A short road trip to Cades Cove offers families an inexpensive day trip full of free historical tours and nature watching. Bear sightings while shopping are not uncommon in the Smoky Mountains Arts & Crafts District. And if you just want to sit on the deck of your cabin and hope a bear ambles by, check out Great Escape for likely bear adventures.
As much as we love our black bears, we want to remind you–Willfully approaching within 50 yards (150 feet), or any distance that disturbs or displaces a bear, is illegal in the park. Violation of this federal regulation can result in fines and arrest. Use binoculars, telephoto lens, or a spotting scope to view the animals. For more information on what to do if you encounter a black bear, visit the GSMNP’s website.
For some more Black Bear Adventures, see these other blog posts that have to do with our beloved bears!
This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.