Smoky Mountain National Park is a beautiful gem of the Southeast. With waterfalls and streams at every turn, this is a summer treat for cool shade, fishing, bird watching and other various activities. While trekking out this season be aware of the fragile nature around you and the various forms of wildlife that inhabit this area as well. Look at some of the wildlife that populates this area below and remember to head out prepared!
1) Black Bear
One of the most well-known animals to roam the Smoky Mountains is the notorious black bear. While one of the most feared animals around, sightings of the popular black bear are rarer than people may think. Black bears are simply mulling about their own business and would prefer not to encounter you either! Help keep the distance between bears and people by keeping pets on a leash always, leave no trace (even that potato chip you dropped!), and keeping food locked away or in a bear bag at night. Biologists estimate that roughly 1,500 bears live in the park and at various elevations. Plant materials such as berries and nuts make up approximately 85% of their diet. No worries, humans are not on their list, let’s keep it that way!
2) Wild Turkeys
Wild turkeys are always a fun site, especially for those not from the area they can be quite the surprise! Turkeys travel in flocks and search on the ground for nuts, berries, insects, and snails. In early spring, males gather in clearings to perform courtship displays. They puff up their body feathers, flare their tails into a vertical fan, and strut slowly while giving a characteristic gobbling call. While turkeys do very in size, back away slowly to give them some room and don’t ever approach a flock. Just like geese they will advance, and it won’t always be friendly! Take a peak below.
3) Pileated Woodpecker
Birdwatching in the Smokies is a popular past-time enjoyed by many! The hot summers and mild winters provide the perfect climate for many different bird species. The Pileated Woodpecker is a large woodpecker with a long neck and a triangular crest that sweeps off the back of the head. The bill is long and chisel-like, about the length of the head. Easy to spot if you sit quietly and listen for the distinctive woodpecker sound, and look for the bright colors of their feathers. These are forest birds that like standing dead trees or large downed wood.
Pick up a pair of binoculars and bring along the perfect birdwatching outdoor chair – the Looking Glass Perch. This adjustable stool folds perfectly flat for easy transportation and adjusts in height for different uses. Blue Ridge Chair Works makes enjoying the outdoors convenient and as easy as 1-2-3!
Another flighted animal popular in the Smoky Mountains: bats! Bats are unique mammals with forelimbs specialized for true flight. All eleven species of bats in the park feed exclusively on insects. You may see them fluttering around if you are camping, darting so quickly you may have to swivel your neck back to make sure you saw correctly! The big brown bat, eastern red bat, and tri-colored bat are most commonly seen in the park. Most of the caves in the park provide critical bat habitat. Because bats can be harmed by human disturbance in these caves, visitors are prohibited from entering them. Learn more about a serious threat to park bats.
Bats kill insects, so they are vital to the growth and healthy population of the forest!
Foxes can be found through Smoky Mountain National Park, especially in Cades Cove. Cades Cove is a valley in the Tennessee Section of the park. Home to many mammals and a great spot to catch a glimpse of some of the wildlife that roams there. Both red and grey foxes roam this area as there is plenty of open grassland as well as wood fortresses.
Instagram Photo Credit: snots_gori
Camping out is a great way to observe nature in its natural form. In the fog of the morning or late at night in the darkness, book your camp spots early as the Smoky Mountains are a popular destination for many families! Whether you are taking the family out on a vacation or packing in for a solo trip don't forget your handmade camping furniture, such as the The Caravan Chair. This portable chair folds perfectly flat and is lightweitght for easy carry!