Cades Cove Wildlife : A Photo Essay

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Cades Cove Wildlife : A Photo Essay

Cades Cove is an 11-mile, one-way paved loop located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. It is one of the best places to spot wildlife in the Smokies and likely the best place to spot black bears in the Smokies.

While on my one-day visit there, I was hoping, but not expecting to see black bears. I was lucky enough to see one cub and then later a mama bear and four cubs.

I also got within in feet of some of the largest turkeys I’ve ever seen in my life and tons of deer.

Here’s some of my best photos from Cades Cove…

IMG_5839 IMG_5840 IMG_5886 IMG_5888 IMG_5891 IMG_5895 IMG_5900 IMG_5926_2 IMG_5928

Do you enjoy taking photos of wildlife?  To you ever throw your safety out the window in exchange for getting close to a potentially dangerous animal?
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Traveler. Freelance Writer. Blogger. Vegan. Risk Taker. Voice for the Voiceless.


  1. Brianna

    May 17, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    Cool shots of the bears, they are so cute!
    Brianna recently posted…Boutique bliss at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco AlexandriaMy Profile

  2. Ming @OnALim1

    May 17, 2014 at 11:21 PM

    I got headbutted once by a young ram when I was 9 and I’ve been chicken ever since.
    Ming @OnALim1 recently posted…A Malaysian Pasar Pagi (Wet Market)My Profile

  3. Molly S

    May 18, 2014 at 2:58 AM

    Aww, those bears are great! I’ve never got that close to animals in the wild – it’s one of the reasons I’d love to go on safari. Not so sure about the turkeys, though – they look kind of scary to me!
    Molly S recently posted…Learning From Travel: The World is the Best ClassroomMy Profile

  4. Emma

    May 18, 2014 at 4:21 AM

    Fantastic pics… How amazing that you got to see the bears too! 🙂

  5. Tamika

    May 18, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    I love the horse photo. I also love to take wildlife photos, I may or may not have leaned out of windows and/or stalked human sized birds to get a better photo!
    Tamika recently posted…Tasty Bites in Vienna pt. 2My Profile

  6. Margherita @The Crowded Planet

    May 18, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Great pics Ashley! Love the bears and the strutting turkey, so cool! I had never heard of this place, thanks for sharing the secret!
    Margherita @The Crowded Planet recently posted…On Currywurst, and Why Street Food Should Stay on the StreetsMy Profile

  7. Bianca @itsallbee

    May 19, 2014 at 3:59 AM

    Beautiful place. Its cool you can see so much wildlife in one spot. I wish I had something close by without resorting to have to go to the zoo.
    Bianca @itsallbee recently posted…Sunset Walks on Portsea IslandMy Profile

  8. Lauren

    May 19, 2014 at 6:44 AM

    That’s amazing that you were able to get up so close to those animals, especially the bears! Bears are so cute. Looks like a very scenic place!
    Lauren recently posted…Happy Rolph’s Bird Sanctuary and 9/11 Memorial WalkwayMy Profile

  9. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey

    May 19, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    What stunning photos Ashley. You really have an eye for photography, especially animals. fab shots!
    SJ @ Chasing the Donkey recently posted…The donkey visits Paklenica National ParkMy Profile

  10. Anna | slightly astray

    May 19, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    So lucky you got to see bears and cubs! I’ve never had luck with random wildlife sightings. What a memorable experience!
    Anna | slightly astray recently posted…Buenos Aires Zoo: Close Encounters with the Patagonian MaraMy Profile

  11. lorrie

    May 19, 2014 at 8:48 AM

    those are awesome photos I plan to visit colorao in the fall

  12. Gabor Kovacs

    May 19, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    Wow, this seems to be a really amazing national park, and you saw a black bear, I am really jealous of this experience!!!
    Gabor Kovacs recently posted…21 must see places in RomeMy Profile

  13. Heather

    May 19, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    These are such great shots! Glad I followed you from the #SundayTraveler link-up. Thank you for sharing. – Heather, Life of a Traveling Navy Wife
    Heather recently posted…My Dragons – Caring for Exotic PetsMy Profile

  14. Samantha

    May 19, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    Awww you got a bear cub! So cute! Fabulous photos, that looks like one giant turkey haha

  15. Corinne

    May 19, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    I love wildlife photos, and those cubs are too cute. I once did a hike and a flock (?) of wild turkeys walked a for about 25 minutes with me. Wierd, but wonderful!
    Corinne recently posted…Qatar’s One and Only World Heritage Site – Al ZubarahMy Profile

  16. TammyOnTheMove

    May 19, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    Those bears are just soo cute. Lovely potos!
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted…The mountain that eats menMy Profile

  17. Anu @ Country Hopping Couple

    May 19, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    Gorgeous pictures Ashley. It’s very difficult to capture wildlife so vividly, and you’ve done a great job at this! My fav is ofcourse the bear pic!

  18. Katie @ The World on my Necklace

    May 19, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    I love the cub photos! I have seen a bear in the wild but seeing a baby would be amazing 🙂
    Katie @ The World on my Necklace recently posted…Undiscovered Canarian paradise: La GomeraMy Profile

  19. Constance - Foreign Sanctuary

    May 19, 2014 at 8:08 PM

    Beautiful photos! I love the black bear one – a very nice shot!
    Constance – Foreign Sanctuary recently posted…The Red Bomb – The Meaning Behind a Taiwanese Wedding InvitationMy Profile

  20. Hannah

    May 19, 2014 at 8:16 PM

    one big word about those baby bears: AWWWWWWWW

  21. Daidri | Thee Getaway Gal

    May 19, 2014 at 11:09 PM

    You saw some great wildlife and really captured it well in your photos. Those Turkeys are huge, I’ve not seen ones that large before. I saw baby black bears in Whistler, BC years ago but they were pretty far away and the Mama was close by. You were very fortunate to see this cute little guy and get such fun pics.
    Daidri | Thee Getaway Gal recently posted…Wineries With A View: Paso Robles CaliforniaMy Profile

  22. Jen Seligmann

    May 20, 2014 at 1:59 AM

    I saw a TV program on this region a few years back and remember thinking how I must visit there one day. I’d completely forgotten until now. It looks great and there are lots of opportunities to see wildlife which I love.
    Jen Seligmann recently posted…Subscribe to my newsletter & receive a FREE copy of my eBookMy Profile

  23. Lisa Goodmurphy

    May 20, 2014 at 7:41 AM

    Fantastic photos! In answer to your question – no, I would never throw safety out the window to try and get a photo of a dangerous animal. I’m a big wimp and I’m especially terrified of bears so I would be backing away, making as much noise as I could and I don’t think I would even remember that I had a camera let alone stop to take a photo! 😉
    Lisa Goodmurphy recently posted…Family Travel MondayMy Profile

  24. Paul

    May 20, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    Great photos Ashley! Love the clarity of the Turkey & Deer photos, you can really see the fine detail and colours. It must have been a privilege to see those bears too!

  25. Alexandra C.

    May 20, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    Lovely photos! 🙂 I have been meaning to email you about your collaborations. Perhaps I’ll get a chance later this week! -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things
    Alexandra C. recently posted…First Annual Kansas Food Truck Festival! // Hometown HappeningsMy Profile

  26. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

    May 21, 2014 at 11:32 PM

    I totally suck at wildlife photography, especially the aquatic type. I’m not sure if I’d be quaking in my boots or excited if I came face-to-face with a black bear. Perhaps a cub would be fine, but an angry mama bear would be something else. I love your photos and appreciate them that much more because of my lack of skill in that department. Great turkeys!
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted…Beauty and Renewal at Butchart GardensMy Profile

  27. Bob R

    May 22, 2014 at 1:39 AM

    Excellent luck with the bears. I saw a handful during a day hike to Mt LeConte in the Smokies. On the way up I was right next to a cub that fell out of a tree. Quite a loud yelp that was. 🙂
    Bob R recently posted…Jirón Camaná, Lima (Pic du Jour)My Profile

  28. Tam @ Travelling Book Junkie

    May 22, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    Fantastic photos – love the head on shot of the turkey and the bear looks so cute! 🙂
    Tam @ Travelling Book Junkie recently posted…Michael M. McConaugheyMy Profile

  29. Matilda

    May 23, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    Beautiful photos…and you weren’t kidding, those turkeys are HUGE!
    Matilda recently posted…Tips for Watching Sumo in JapanMy Profile

  30. frankaboutcroatia

    May 24, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    Wonderful photos, Ashley. I’ve only had obe close encounter with a bear in the park in Quebec. They gave us instructions at the enterance of the park to stay calm and clap our hands. Believe me, I was clapping all the time.
    frankaboutcroatia recently posted…Slow Roads Croatia: Trstenik PeljesacMy Profile

  31. IntrovertlyBubbly

    May 26, 2014 at 7:53 AM

    I actually love taking pictures of wildlife but never works out well with my cell phone. I use my phone most times for my adventurers as it is easy and more manageable. So on those trips I definitely would have to walk with camera…I may be more cautious depending of the danger I feel at the time…
    IntrovertlyBubbly recently posted…Menus are expanding with creative, artsy and delicious Tapas… Move over (ordinary) Tapas, Trinidad and TobagoMy Profile

  32. shere @shereypaul

    May 28, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    I love taking shoots of wild life. Normally I’m not very patient but for a picture I can be. The bears are so cute!!
    shere @shereypaul recently posted…Babywearing selfie-WW/MMMy Profile

  33. Chris Boothman

    May 29, 2014 at 8:02 AM

    So much great wildlife to see here in this part of the Smoky Mountains. I am so glad that you were able to see the bear up close (though kudos to you for getting that close especially when you indicated the mom was close by).
    Chris Boothman recently posted…Road Tripping from Boston to CanadaMy Profile

  34. Dave Cole

    June 18, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    I can’t believe how close you got to the wildlife there! Were you in a car or hiking? I’m not sure that I would risk the hiking with so many bears around. I have not been in this area since I was young and your posts on Tennessee have made me realize that a return visit should be planned soon.
    Dave Cole recently posted…Monday Morning Photo – View from a café, Abidjan, Cote d’IvoireMy Profile

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