4 Types of Smoky Mountain Wildlife You Can Spot During the Winter Months

You’ll be excited to know that you can spot wildlife in the Smokies all year long, even in the winter! One of the unique perks of staying at our Wears Valley cabin resort is that we are just a short drive from a “secret” entrance into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with easy access to Cades Cove and other areas known for an abundance of wildlife! Here are 4 types of Smoky Mountain wildlife that you can spot during the winter months:

1. White-Tailed Deer

white-tailed deer in the smokiesOne of the most common animals to see all year in the Smokies is the white-tailed deer, which are most easily spotted in areas with open fields, such as Cades Cove and Cataloochee Valley. The deer browse for acorns, nuts, and nutritious plants, but if nothing is available they will even eat poison ivy or rhododendrons! On the coldest winter days when lush vegetation becomes less available, the white-tailed deer will go deeper into the forest and adapt to eating twigs and bark if necessary. The winter is also significant as this is the time when bucks drop their antlers! 

2. River Otters

Another one of the types of Smoky Mountain wildlife that you can spot during the winter months is the river otter! In fact, otters are one of the more active animals that you can find in the area, regardless of the season! A great place to see these adorable water-loving critters is along the Abrams Falls Trail, where they are often spotted splashing around in the creek! It’s amazing to think that the river otter had moved almost entirely out of the Smokies until the early 1990s when the Park Service began to reintroduce them into Great Smoky Mountains National Park

3. Wild Turkeys

wild turkey in the smoky mountainsWhile the elk is the largest mammal in the park, the wild turkey is the largest bird! These birds can be spotted virtually anywhere throughout the Smokies, especially because their current population is the highest it’s been in the national park since the 20th century! Since the wild turkey spends the majority of its time feeding on the ground, many people don’t think that this large bird can fly. However, they are actually very skilled fliers and have been known to fly up to 55 or 60 miles per hour in short bursts! Therefore, you may catch a wild turkey resting up in the trees after taking a flight! 

4. Coyotes

Coyotes are also some of the Smoky Mountain wildlife that you can see in the winter, but they are normally seen roaming at night. You can sometimes see them darting across fields, so you’ll really have to keep your eyes open for them! These animals are about 4 feet long and 2 feet tall, and they can easily be mistaken for dogs. Their larger cousin, the red wolf, used to live in the Smokies until they were hunted to extinction in the area by the 1980s, so coyotes are now “top dog” in the park!

Check out all of our cabins in Wears Valley TN today to enjoy a winter vacation to the Smokies, and keep your eyes peeled for any Smoky Mountain wildlife on your way to our resort! We look forward to seeing you soon!