Bears in the Park

American Black Bear

American Black Bear (Photo credit: siwild)

Many people talk about the bears they see in and around Smoky Mountain National Park.  Apparently black bears are plentiful in the mountains, but I’ve yet to see one.  We had a bear sighting last summer from people staying in our cabin, Southern Serenity.  But we’ve never seen one there.

If you ask folks in the area where to see bear they’ll tell you Cades Cove is your best bet.  We’ve been there a number of times; early, mid, and late in the day, no bear.  I’ve gone hiking in the park at the crack of dawn hoping to see bear, no such luck.

I’m starting to think it’s one of those things where we are just not seeing them, even though they are there.  Perhaps once we see one we’ll know how to spot them.  There is an organization in the area that rescues, rehabilitates, and releases bears back into the wild.  Appalachian Bear Rescue does good work and helps to educate the public about these fabulous creatures.

The author of this article from USA Today reports seeing bear on his first trip to the park, as well as talking to lots of people who’ve seen lots of bear.  Good for them.  Maybe someday we’ll get lucky and see a bear.  Have you seen a black bear in The Great Smoky Mountains?  Any tips on where or how to spot them?

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Kayaking Rivers in the Smoky Mountains

Kayaks in Spring

I’ve seen people kayaking in Smoky Mountain National Park.  It looks cold.  I saw them doing this in the spring, and my thoughts went to the top of the mountains.  Where it is colder.  Where the snow falls.  Where, in the spring,  the water melts to feed the rivers.  I just think the water in the rivers and streams must be really cold.

According to the National Park Service web information there are over 2100 miles of rivers and streams in the park.  Sounds like there is plenty of room for kayaks and canoes in park waters. I’ve seen people park their vehicles in one of the large pull outs on the park roads, then unload their kayaks and brave the cold waters of the Smoky Mountains.  Brrrrrr…

If you do brave the waters in the park be careful and mindful of what you are doing.  Although probably a lot of fun, kayaking and canoeing rushing waters can be dangerous.  Here is a warning about dams on the rivers from the Tennessee Valley Authority.