The Great Smoky Mountains national park is home to more than 2 black bears per square mile and they are still very active, especially now that winter is right around the corner.
Black bear in the GSMNP don't hibernate all winter long but they do become less active and now is the time they need to fatten up for the winter.
While most times I spend a full day in back country I see black bear during their active season, more often than not other than Cades Cove you don't see them by the roadways within the Great Smoky Mountains national park.
Right now other than Cades Cove your best chance of see a bear alongside the road in the national park is in the Roaring Fork section of the park just outside the City of Gatlinburg Tennessee. You will find bear often just as you enter on Cherokee Orchard Road and just after the second Rainbow fall parking area where I took this picture of the huge fat bear below.
Bear are sill active throughout the Great Smoky mountains national park and will be until sometime in December. They are still backcountry campsites closed due to agressive bear activities and warning on many hiking trails.
Though they may seem more interested in food than anything else do not approach a bear and keep at least 150 feet between you and them.
If you see wildlife you wish to observe or photograph pull off the road in a designated pull off and shut off your engine.