The Bear Facts in Great Smoky

There are scads of bears in Great Smoky Mountains National Park -- so don't forget these tips.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

  • The Smokies’ bears are known “pack snatchers,” so hang your pack on the provided bear cables, even if you’re only going for water or to the privy.
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the largest bear sanctuary in the eastern United States.
  • Your best chance to see bears is from 6 to 10 a.m. and from 3 to 7 p.m., when their activity peaks. At other times of the day, look up. Black bears spend a lot of time in trees sleeping and foraging for buds, acorns, insects, and bird eggs. Some even make dens in large tree cavities above ground.
  • The Smokies’ bears enter their winter dens in late November or December and may emerge for a few hours or days. They den until mid-March or April.
  • Black bears can run up to 30 mph. Remember, you can’t.
  • Females are smaller than males, which can weigh more than 400 pounds. Both sexes are always black.

Trending on Backpacker