black bear in the smoky mountains
September 16, 2022

If you’re planning a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’re probably hoping to spot some of the famous wildlife of the area. But do you know what kind of animals you should be on the lookout for? We’re sure you know about black bears, but there are so many more creatures you could see! Keep reading to learn more about animals in the Smoky Mountains you should know about:


There are about 65 species of mammals in the Great Smoky Mountains. Of course, the most commonly seen ones include:

  • White Tailed Deer
  • Birds
  • Groundhogs
  • Chipmunks
  • Squirrels
  • Bats

white tailed deer animals in the smoky mountains

Black bears are the most popular mammals in the park, but they aren’t as frequently seen as these other mammals. The most popular spots to see black bears include Cades Cove, Cataloochee Valley, and deep in the woods along hiking trails.

The largest mammal isn’t the black bear like you might think. It’s actually elk, which can be found on the North Carolina side of the Smokies. These creatures used to live throughout the park, but due to hunting, they had to be reintroduced in 2001.

The smallest mammal is a pygmy shrew. These creatures don’t typically weigh more than a dime, and they prefer to live close to a water source.


While a good portion of the animals in the Smoky Mountains are mammals, an important group of animals that live in the area is reptiles. Here are the reptiles that live in the park:

  • Turtles
  • Lizards
  • Snakes

eastern box turtle animal in the smoky mountains

There are 8 turtle species that live in the Smokies. Some of them live on land and water, while others solely live on land. Some of the species you might spot include snapping turtles, eastern box turtle, and an eastern painted turtle.

Lizards are other animals in the Smoky Mountains you may see as you explore along trails. They favor areas that are warm and dry, so you’ll most likely spot them in low elevations. You could see lizards, skins, and anoles.

Most people probably don’t want to see a snake while they’re hiking a trail, but it is possible to come across one. Rest assured that out of the 23 species of snakes that live in the park, only 2 are venomous species. You’re more likely to see a corn snake, a kingsnake, or a northern water snake.


Unless you’re extremely close to a source of water, you may not be spotting any amphibians in the Smoky Mountains. Here are the creatures you could find in the park:

  • Salamanders
  • Frogs

yellow salamander animal in the smoky mountains

Fun fact: the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known as the salamander capital of the world. This is due to this species being abundant in the area with over 30 types living here. They are typically seen near creeks and rivers, so this is where you are likely to find them.

Of course, frogs are the same way. You’re more likely to spot them when you’re close to water since that’s where they love to live, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spot one hidden in the leaves along a trail!


If you’re a fisherman or you just want to show your kids creatures as you explore, you’ll have to stop at the creeks, streams, and rivers to see fish in the Smokies. These bodies of water are home to 67 species of fish, including:

  • Lampreys
  • Darters
  • Bass
  • Trout
  • Minnows

If you do plan on fishing while in the park, be sure to get your fishing license and be aware of how many fish you are allowed to catch per day.

Now you have a better idea of what to expect when it comes to animals in the Smoky Mountains. We know you’ll have fun even if you don’t see any creatures, but if you spend any time in the park, you’re likely to see a few! Exploring the Smokies is a great thing to do when you stay in one of our cabins, but what else will you do while you’re here? Find fun things to do and free tickets through our Freedom Fun Pass, which is only available when you book with us!