Here are some safety tips and ways you can be bear wise while staying in your Gatlinburg cabin or hotel. 

  • Enjoy bears from a distance and never approach them.
  • Feeding bears (intentionally or unintentionally) trains them to approach homes and people for more food, and you may be ticketed and fined.
  • Bears may be defensive when people get too close.
  • Secure your food and garbage.
  • Clean and store your BBQ grill.
  • Keep doors and windows closed.

Before you rent, ask if they have bear-resistant trash containers. A bear-resistant rental will help prevent conflicts with bears while ensuring your family’s safety while on vacation.

A little effort on your part goes a long way for bear safety

Secure Food & Garbage

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A bear’s strongest sense is smell. They can pick up a scent from over a mile away! That is more than seven times better than a bloodhound. Food and food odors attract bears, so don’t reward them with easily available food, liquids or garbage. Normal trash cans, even with the lids on tight, offer little resistance to determined black bears.

  • Food and food odors attract bears, so don’t reward them with easily available food or garbage.
  • Don’t leave garbage and recycling outside of your vacation rental overnight.
  • Do not leave food, coolers or garbage unattended on a picnic table or anywhere outdoors – even for a moment!

Clean Your Grill

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Greasy grills smell very tempting to bears and other wildlife.

  • Burn off food particles on your barbeque grill after each use.
  • Clean or remove the grease pan. Do not dump drippings in the yard.
  • Cover your grill.
  • If bears are active in the area of your vacation rental, store the BBQ grill indoors. Leave the propane tank outside (propane is a fire risk).

Keep Doors And Windows Closed

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In some vacation destinations, bears have learned to search for food left in vehicles, cabins and condos after guests have left.

  • Keep vehicle doors and windows closed at all times, even when going back inside for just a moment to load or unload.
  • If you leave your residence, shut the doors and windows.

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Black Bears in Gatlinburg

An iconic symbol of the Smokies, the American Black Bear, is perhaps the most famous resident of Great Smoky Mountains National Park with approximately 1,500 bears living in the park. While seeing a bear is a wonderful experience, it's important to always be "bear aware."