June 30, 2009

If you wanna see a bear - go to the Cades Cove!

My father, a man not known for being cool under pressure, yelled at the tourist traffic that was a head of us causing a "bear jam" on the way to my wedding last November. "If you wanna see a bear go to the d*mn zoo!"

It was embarrassing, then, when we reached the bears and my mother made him slow down to get a picture. Then again, I had to have proof that I was late because of nature, rather than cold feet!

This summer bears are out and about more than ever. The national park has closed trails due to numerous bear sitings. Black bears aren't normally aggressive, the deer aren't scared of the bears at all. Typically its stupid humans - getting too close and making the bears nervous.

Since Jay got finished working early than expected on Saturday, we decided to head into the Cove to go bear hunting. Rest assured that the only shooting allowed is with a camera, and we got some great shots.

(Click to enlarge pictures.)

At the entrance of the 13 mile loop, an old timer was riding a horse drawn wagon of some sort. The entrance is where all the horse are (there is a nearby riding stable) and it appeared that he was fertilizing the area.

Jay had said we were a bit too early for the bears (it was 6:30PM) so we headed down one of the side roads to take it all in. About half way down the lane, there were several cars stopped in the road pointing at something.

We had the top down on the Jeep, so I stood up in my seat to get a better view. I wish I could take credit for this one, but Jay pulled off the road and stood up to take this shot.

As we headed around the loop, we saw 3 more bears - a mama and her cubs. Since traffic was at a bear jam stand still, I hopped out of the Jeep to take a few pictures.

I had the camera zoomed in, because I know better than to get to close to a Mama Bear & her cubs, so the pictures of the cubs turned out blurry.

As we circled around the loop, there was no shortage of deer either.

I'm a firm follower of the park service's "take nothing, leave nothing" philosophy. Even to the point of packing out a tampon in a powerade bottle once during a hike. So I was upset to see what looked like a balloon in the middle of the field. Zooming in with the camera, our suspicions were confirmed.

Jay and I decided to swing back through the loop, since we still had a couple hours until dark. We made a great choice because shortly into our 2nd loop, we saw another bear. I stood up in the Jeep and rested my elbows on the roll bar to get this one.

Half way through our 2nd loop, it started to get dark.

While it made for some great scenery, I was in a tank top and shorts and the top was down off the Jeep. I got really cold really quickly.

Next time I'll be sure to bring a sweatshirt because in a Jeep with the top down is definitely the way to take it all in!


  1. Those a great shots! I've been to the Cove twice and saw deer once but no bears!

  2. wow, how cool is that!! I LOVE that second to last picture of the hazy dusk, GORGEOUS SHOT!!!! ps. you're making me miss the jeep I traded in for the minivan. wahhhhh.

  3. That's so awesome!!! And I'm so jealous that you have a jeep!!!

  4. I had to re-read the last two parts twice, about a top down... In the end I realized you were talking about the Jeep and... yeah in the other context it would have been off. I know. : )

    Nice pictures.

  5. Too bad you couldn't take your long bike ride there...not sure if you'd outbike the bears though. How cool to be so close to such an amazing creature.

  6. amazing place!!! terrific photos! :) thanks for the tour!

  7. This is incredible! I told Anthony we need to plan a Saturday drive there. Any clue on how far it would be from N-ville?


what up yo?