According to park rangers, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is now home to 1,600 black bears and counting. That’s a lot of bears! Even so, there is no guarantee you will see one during your visit. With careful planning, however, you may be able to spot one of these amazing creatures; and from a safe distance.
CATALOOCHEE VALLEY, NC (GSMNP) - By the early 1800’s, mountain farming communities sprang up throughout the Smoky Mountains. Utilizing trails created by the Cherokees, farmers made their way to areas previously hunted and farmed by the Indians, and built homes there.
Although Cataloochee Valley is the most remote of the Appalachian farming communities, it became the largest and most prosperous, reaching a population high of 1,251 people.
GATLINBURG, TN (GSMNP) - The narrow road contributes to the feeling you are hiking on a trail, but without the exertion. Trees rise to the sky mere inches from the road and the canopy provides shade for the drive. White-tail deer and black bears roaming around is not unusual. More than 1,500 black bears are home in the Smoky Mountains, and you may see one or two.
Several historic buildings are situated along the trail. Homer Bales Barn, Alex Cole Cabin, Reagan Tub Mill, and Ephraim Bales Cabin are points of interest you may want to explore. While some visitors remain in their cars, we recommend getting out and enjoying a walking tour.
OCONALUFTEE, NC (GSMNP) - Rather than lose the local mountain culture to the past, land was set aside so farm homes, barns, meat houses, and other remnants of the farm life would live on. The Oconaluftee Mountain Farm Museum was born.
The buildings were moved from their original locations throughout the Smoky Mountains and brought together in one place. As you wander around the grounds, you will see original structures and a few reproductions.
CADES COVE, TN (GSMNP) - Cades Cove is one of the most serene and pastoral places to be found anywhere on earth. The breathtaking views of pastureland, majestic trees, rolling hills, sunsets, and wandering animals are incomparable.
As one makes his way through this glorious valley, reminders are everywhere, that in the not too distant past, this place was also home to a small group of American pioneers.