sunrise over Gatlinburg, Tennessee

3 Popular Animals That Live in The Great Smoky Mountains

salamander on river rocks
September 19, 2023

One of the best things to do when you come to the Smoky Mountain area is spend time outdoors. With that being said, you should definitely visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during your stay with us. It is known for its stunning natural scenery. As you’re exploring, you may have the chance to see some of the wildlife that call the area home. Learn more about these residents when you read over this list of 3 popular animals that live in the Great Smoky Mountains:

1. Black Bears

black bear in Cades Cove

Black bears are the most popular animal in the Great Smoky Mountains. In fact, they have a population density of two bears per square mile. They can live in many types of environments due to their unique traits, one of which is their claws. A black bear's claws can be up to 2 inches long and aid them in climbing trees and looking for food. Additionally, black bears are also good swimmers. This particular ability is especially useful because it helps them find fish, one of their main food sources. Black bears can live anywhere in the Great Smoky Mountains, from high peaks to flatter ground. Even so, you are most likely to see them in Cades Cove.

2. Salamanders

Salamanders may be one of the smaller animals in the Great Smoky Mountains; however, their population is mighty. In fact, the Smokies are deemed the “Salamander Capital of the World,” for over 30 species live here. Salamanders are born in water. Some species have gills while others breathe through their skin. They also lack vocal cords. They communicate with each other by making snapping or clicking noises and sensing chemical signals. One of their other unique abilities is that they can regenerate limbs and organs. This is an excellent way to survive attacks from their various predators, some of which include raccoons and snakes. Salamanders are most commonly found around Grotto Falls. They thrive in its waters and cool climate.

3. White-Tailed Deer

white-tailed deer in Smoky Mountains

White-tailed deer are one of the popular animals on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains. They have many unique abilities that keep them safe and away from predators such as bears and coyotes. White-tailed deer can run at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour and jump to heights of up to 10 feet. They are also very good swimmers, as they can swim at speeds of up to 13 miles per hour. Although they have a great sense of vision and hearing, they rely on their sense of smell to know when predators are nearby. While in the Smokies, you will most likely see white-tailed deer in open field areas, such as Cades Cove.

Wildlife Viewing Guidelines

If you see these or other animals during your visit to the Great Smoky Mountains, there are some guidelines you must follow for the safety of yourself and the wildlife. Remember to stay more than 150 feet away from black bears and other big animals. Don’t attempt to feed them, as human food may be harmful. Additionally, if you find a smaller creature, such as a salamander, under a rock or other object, do your best to leave it exactly as you found it.

We hope you enjoyed learning about the animals of the Great Smoky Mountains! Want to know more about the area? Explore our list of 4 interesting facts about the Great Smoky Mountains!