Best Places to Meet Wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains

Posted by Darryl Payne in Smoky Mountains

If you're an animal lover then the Smoky Mountains is the place for you. Sure might expect to find bears, elk and owls that live in the wilderness, but did you know you'll also find prehistoric dinosaurs? And animals from the rainforest. Bet you can't imagine sea creatures in the mountains! It's true. You'll find all of these fascinating creatures and many more when you visit the Smokies.

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

Thanks to Ripley's you can see over 10,000 exotic sea creatures in the middle of the mountains. As a matter of fact, Ripley's Aquarium claims there are more fish than people in Gatlinburg! See them all as you check out the Tropical Rainforest with over 2,000 species of fish. There's also the Coral Reef, which is home to hundreds of fish with bright and beautiful colors. The largest and most popular area is the Shark Lagoon where you'll find yourself very close to, but still safe from, some really big sharks. Before you leave, make sure you visit the Touch-A-Ray Bay where you can feel the smooth skin of a stingray. You'll forget where you are in this great underwater adventure. Click here for website.

Cherokee Bear Zoo

About an hour away from the Smoky Mountains in Cherokee, NC, you'll find the Cherokee Bear Zoo. In this zoo you can observe, feed and be entertained by the native black bear. You also have the opportunity to see tigers, monkeys, grizzlies, raccoons and deer. Little ones are sure to enjoy the petting zoo, which always seems to have plenty of baby goats. It's a neat place for adults and children to witness animals from near and far.

Rainforest Adventure Discovery Zoo

Located in Sevierville, TN, this incredible zoo is a collection of over 400 animals and more than 130 different species from rainforests around the world. There are mammals, reptiles, birds and bugs on loan from zoos across the United States. What an awesome way to witness first hand these unique rainforest inhabitants. Visit their website.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

According to the National Park Service, “The Smokies have the most biological diversity of any area in the world's temperate zone.” The Smokies are home to approximately 1,500 black bear as well as deer and elk. Explore the park yourself, or take in a ranger-guided tour. Horseback riding is another incredible way to take in the scenery.

No matter what types of animals you find interesting, you're bound to see them in or near the Smoky Mountains. With so many opportunities, your hardest decision won't be what to see, but where to start!



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