black bear in Cades Cove

Where to See Bears in the Smoky Mountains Without Taking a Hike

When you think of the Smokies, one of the first things that comes to mind is the image of the black bear. After all, park rangers have estimated that there are more than 1,600 bears in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! If you wondering where to see bears in the Smoky Mountains without taking a hike, check out these places near Auntie Belham’s Cabin Rentals:

1. Three Bears General StoreThree bears general store

The last place you would ever expect to see live bears is within a Pigeon Forge gift shop, but that is exactly what you will find at the Three Bears General Store! This shopper’s paradise was established in 1979 and features 40,000 square feet of souvenirs, Amish jams and even moonshine water. The highlight of the store is a live bear habitat where you can actually see AND feed live bears! The bear habitat is open daily from 10 a.m. to dusk, while the feeding hours are from 10 a.m. to noon, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The admission and feeding cup are available for a nominal fee, so stop by for an up close encounter with a bear that you will never forget!

2. Wildlife Encounter at Ober Gatlinburg

One of the best places to see black bears in the Smoky Mountains is at the Wildlife Encounter at Ober Gatlinburg. This privately funded zoo offers up close viewing of native wildlife in a safe environment. Here you can see a family of black bears! The family consists of Minnie and BJ, as well as their now grown 5 year olds Holly and Chief. The Wildlife Encounter at Ober Gatlinburg features 3 different concrete enclosures, two of which house the black bears. While exploring the zoo, you can also see river otters, bobcats, flying squirrels, 8 different bird of prey species and a variety of reptiles, amphibians and fish!

bear in cades cades3. Drive Through Cades Cove

If you still want an opportunity to see bears in the wild and wondering where to see bears in the Smoky Mountains, take a drive through Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is one of the best places in the park to see black bears. They love Cades Cove for its ecosystem, as well as the abundance and variety of food sources. The best times to spot bears in Cades Cove is early in the morning and late afternoon. A 11-mile driving loop circles the cove, offering you the opportunity to sightsee through the area at a leisurely place. If you happen to spot a bear, remember to stay at least 150 feet away as bears are wild animals that can be dangerous and unpredictable! For an up-close look at the bears, bring binoculars and maintain a safe distance at all times.

Now that you know where to see bears in the Smoky Mountains, check out all of our Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge cabin rentals today to plan your vacation to the Smokies! We look forward to seeing you soon at Auntie Belham’s Cabin Rentals!