Black Bear Safety tips for your Smoky Mountains Vacation

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The Great Smoky Mountains is one of the few places in the United States where black bears can be found living in their natural habitat. While this certainly adds to the appeal of those who want to observe these animals from a safe distance in the wild, it can also be dangerous for those who don’t understand bears and their behavior. If you see black bears in the Smoky Mountains during a hike or picnic, or even near the cabin during your stay, follow these tips from the National Park Service to keep you and your family safe.


Never Approach a Bear


If you see a Smoky Mountain bear, do not approach it. In fact, it is illegal to willingly come within 150 feet of a black bear in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Black bears in the wild can act aggressively towards people who invade their space. If a Smoky Mountain bear begins making loud noises or running in your direction, your first instinct will likely be to run away. The key is to stand your ground and not run. Instead, back away slowly and keep your eye on the bear. When you distance yourself from the bear, it will back away from you.


Change Direction


If a bear follows you without making signs of aggression, change direction to create some distance between you and the bear. If it gets too close, try to act aggressively yourself to intimidate it. If you are scared, shout at it, throw sticks at it, and head to higher ground to make yourself look as big as possible. Always act together with your family or companions. Most importantly, do not run and do not turn away from the bear.


Separate Yourself from Food Items


Black bear Safety Smoky Mountains



Most bear attacks occur when a bear tries to steal people's food. These usually result in minor injuries. If a bear gets close to you when you have food, separate yourself from the food and back away slowly. A bear’s diet consists almost completely of fruits and berries. Bears are only interested in your food items. There are designated picnic areas at many of the scenic parks and hiking areas. For the best experience, use those designated areas! It is important to respect the habitat of the bears in the Smoky Mountains, so for the safety of your family and future families, be sure to pick up and dispose of any garbage from a picnic site in specially designed bear-proof containers provided by the park service.


If you see a Smoky Mountains black bear, admire it from a distance! It is exciting to see the bears, but bears are not pets and can be unpredictable.


Are there bears near your cabins? 


Yes, both ourselves and our guests have observed wild bears "visiting" our cabins. We can never predict when they can show up. Enjoy watching them from the safety of the cabin. NEVER LEAVE TRASH OR FOOD ITEMS ON THE DECKS, PICNIC TABLES, BY THE FIREPIT, OR IN THE YARD. LOCK ALL WINDOWS AND DOORS WHEN LEAVING THE CABIN, EVEN FOR A SHORT TIME. BAG AND LOCK ALL TRASH IN BEAR-PROOF GARBAGE CONTAINERS PROVIDED. PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE BEARS. A FED BEAR IS A DEAD BEAR.