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Top 7 Animals in the Smoky Mountains You Could See on Your Trip

white tailed deer
July 30, 2022

A major reason people love visiting the Smokies is seeing all the native animals in the area. There are hundreds of animals in the Smoky Mountains you could possibly see while you’re out exploring. They include black bears, salamanders, and so much more. Here are the top 7 animals in the Smoky Mountains you could see on your trip:

1. Black Bears

The most popular creature in the national park is the black bear. There are about 1,500 black bears in the national park. These creatures are omnivores, meaning they eat meat and vegetables. A male black bear can weigh as much as 250 pounds, while a female weighs a little over 100 pounds. Black bears are more likely to be seen in the early morning and late evening hours in spring and summer. A few places in the national park you are likely to see them is Cades Cove or out on a hiking trail. It is illegal to be closer than 50 yards to a black bear.

2. White Tailed Deer

Another one of the most popular animals in the Smoky Mountains you might see is the white tailed deer. These are skittish creatures, so you’ll have to be quiet and still if you want to see them. The best times to look for deer are at dawn and at dusk. You are likely to see deer in open fields because that’s where they usually graze for food. Cades Cove and Cataloochee are great places to go to see white tailed deer.

3. Salamanders


Did you know the Smokies are considered the salamander capital of the world? There are more than 30 species of salamanders in the Smoky Mountains. About 26 species are lungless, so they “breathe” through their skin. The best places to look for salamanders are in damp, cool areas, such as pools beneath waterfalls and in some bodies of water.

4. Gray Squirrels

One of the animals in the Smoky Mountains you are most likely to see at any given time is the gray squirrel. Squirrels are foragers and will likely be found scrounging for nuts. You’ll probably see them near our campground, out on the trails, and anywhere else there is dense forest.

5. Wild Turkey

wild turkey

Wild turkey is a pretty common bird you could see while you’re in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Turkey can fly short distances, and they perch in trees at night to sleep. They are most active early in the morning and in the early afternoon. The best places to look for wild turkey are in open fields, so try Cades Cove or Cataloochee if you want to see wild turkey.

6. Coyotes

It’s pretty rare if people see coyotes in the Smokies, but they do live in the area. These animals in the Smoky Mountains can be up to 4 feet long and weigh 50 pounds. Coyotes are most active at night because that’s when they hunt for food.

7. Fish

man fishing in the mountains

There are several species of fish in the Smokies. You’ll find fish in any stream, creek, or river in the national park. The kind of fish you might see while you’re near the water include brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout and smallmouth bass.

These are just some of the animals in the Smoky Mountains you might see when you’re visiting. Want to feel really close to the animals and nature? Find out more about our campground, then book your spot for your next trip to the Smokies!