5 Tips on Wildlife Watching in the Smoky Mountains

October 20th 2016

The Smoky Mountains National Park is arguably one of the best wildlife viewing sanctuaries across the country. Upon your visit to the Smokies, you will be visiting an area that hosts more than 200 varieties of birds, about 67-70 types of fish, 80 species of reptiles and more than 65 species of mammals and amphibians. Despite the rich and varied wildlife found in this beautiful park, actually viewing the wildlife can be quite challenging as a significant part of the park is covered by dense forests.

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a narrow, winding area where motorists are often able to catch a glimpse of some of the various wildlife and bear. As the deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter, wildlife viewing becomes much easier!

You can visit the open areas of Catalooche and Cades Cove to check out the magnificent white tailed deer, raccoons, elk and turkeys. This is quite a popular area to spot woodchucks and black bear.

In the following section, we have shared a couple of tips that will make it easier for you to locate and watch the area wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Choose the Right Location

As mentioned earlier, a significant part of the Smokies is covered by dense forest. So the key to spotting your favorite animals here is to know where exactly to look! Although a big section of this park is dotted with trees and vegetation, there are a couple of open locations as well, where you will definitely find some mountain critters. Cades Cove is one such area that offers excellent wildlife viewing! This area is very attractive to all types of wildlife because the valley has proper space for the critters to stroll in. You will find wood chucks, white tailed deer, raccoons, black bears and turkeys in this area. If you are traveling via motorbike or car, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a very popular trail, as it comes with some of the most excellent wildlife viewing opportunities! The best part- you can drive along this trail at a smooth and leisurely pace. As you wind along this picturesque trail, you might stumble upon a bear or a turkey casually strolling around the area.

Choose the Right Time

Most of the animals are generally active during the nighttime and early in the morning. This means that it is a good idea to look out for your favorite animals early in the morning and around the evening. It is also an equally good decision to carry your binoculars to get a closer look. You can quietly sit along the side of the trail to check out which animals will finally come out from their hideouts. Most of these animals casually stroll by the trail. Likewise, you should also make it a point to use your binoculars to scan the trees well, as a large number of animals prefer spending their time on the branches.

Try a Guided Hike

If you are excited to observe some of the stunning birds of the area, consider taking a guided hike. There are several guided hikes that are conducted March thru November. You can schedule an expert guide who will take you to some of the most picturesque trails of the park, where you can spot the feathered inhabitants and the beautiful vegetation.

Study the Habits of the Animals You’d Like to See

When your goal is to locate certain animals in the Smokies, it is a good idea to have become familiar with the habits of your favorite animals. For instance, you should know that Black bears are in hibernation during the winter months and they are usually out and about in late spring and early fall. The best time to spot these bears is typically in the morning between 6AM – 10 AM, and in the late afternoon/early evening, around 3pm – 7 PM. White tailed deer on the other hand are relatively easy to spot as they are out and about all through the year. Early mornings and late evenings are the best times to spot these deer. Springtime is breeding time for wild turkey so you will find a lot of activity during this season. They are easier to spot as they mostly fly in flocks. The best time to spot these birds is during the day.

Choose Convenient, Comfortable Lodging

To make your trip a totally enjoyable experience, choose a place to stay that is close to the action! CREEKSIDE LODGE IN MAGGIE VALLEY is conveniently located and will provide a safe, comfortable place to stay after a full day of animal watching. CREEKSIDE LODGE is quaint family-owned destination that offers a warm, relaxing environment to unwind after the day’s activities. Call our staff today at 800-621-1260 to secure your dates. Follow these tips and set yourself up for an awesome wildlife viewing experience in the Great Smokey Mountains!

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT US

  • We went with a large group to the Maggie Valley Creekside Lodge and they were incredibly helpful and hospitable. The accommodations were great. The large foyer area was wonderful for the group and the staff was incredible. They made us welcome in so many ways. The rates were incredibly reasonable and the room had all the necessary amenities.

    Chip T.

  • We loved our visit here! We just got home last night and we all wish we were still there! The staff is extremely helpful and the rooms are nice and clean. We spent a lot of time by the stunning creek cooking dinner on the grill and roasting s'mores over the fire pit. It is centrally located to many attractions. We went on many day trips and didn't spend all day in the car getting there. It's also within walking distance of restaurants and shops, but you may find yourself eating by the rushing creek instead!

    Amie M.

  • Really enjoyable place to stay. Room had a balcony overlooking the creek. Spacious room with comfortable bed. Staff was very nice and friendly. Took only 35-40 minutes to reach the Valley at Cataloochee where the elk were in rut. Awesome stay and can't wait to go back.

    1Pat2014

  • Clean, friendly, quiet, relaxing. Heartfelt thanks to Carol and her entire staff for making our group feel at home again this year. They went out of their way to make sure we had what we needed to make our event a success. We will be back again!

    Ricky Y.

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