Explore the Great Smoky Mountains to See Birds and Wildlife

Discover the activities you should do and the places to visit at the Great Smoky Mountains to see the most species possible.

Birding in the Smoky Mountains

This four season birding hotspot boasts tons of habitat types filled with birds and other wildlife. The Great Smoky Mountains’ low elevations reveal Louisiana waterthrushes or eastern meadowlarks. In hardwood forests, look out for ovenbirds, black-throated blue warblers and white-breasted nuthatches. High elevations include hermit thrushes, winter wrens, Canada warblers and saw-whet owls. About 60 species stay year-round, so bring your binoculars. Here’s even more national park birding hotspots.

More Must-Do Activities

Catch a Fish

Cast your flies to native brook, wild rainbow and brown trout in several miles of fishable streams. The waterways meander through forests of rhododendron, mountain laurel, oak and hemlock. Expect everything from headwater streams to low-elevation rivers.

Black bear at Cades CoveCourtesy Brittany Swain/Country magazine
Black bear at Cades Cove

Go Backpacking

Escape crowds in the country’s most visited national park. Go backpacking on the more than 800 miles of maintained trails. Even a few miles off the main roads will afford you solace as you scan for salamanders, turkeys and black bears. If you plan to camp out, check out these amazing camping gadgets found on Amazon.

Take a Scenic Drive

With winding roads and scenic vistas, the Great Smoky Mountains are a perfect place to tour by car. Bisect the park from lowlands to mountaintops on Highway 441. Then drive Cades Cove Loop Road to see historic churches and other structures. Renting an RV? These are the best RV parks in every state.

Christine Peterson
Christine Peterson writes about wildlife and the outdoors from her home in Wyoming for publications including Birds & Blooms, National Geographic, Outdoor Life, The Guardian and many others. When she isn't writing, she's growing vegetables or wandering the mountains and plains of the West taking photos of wildflowers with her young daughter and two yellow Labradors.