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Get Wild with Haywood’s Animal Encounters


Get Wild with Haywood’s Animal Encounters

Things are getting wild here in Haywood County—literally! So many animals of various species and sizes call this part of the NC Smokies their home. While we have our typical woodland creatures roaming around the natural rainforest of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, there are quite a few animals you wouldn’t expect. If you’re an animal lover, keep reading for some unique animal experiences to enjoy this season.


These majestic mammals are some of our most popular locals here in Haywood. These Rocky Mountain Elk have the largest antlers of all the subspecies and were reintroduced to our area in 2001. You can find them in the Cataloochee Valley where they freely roam in a remote section of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. While the elk are migrating, you may get lucky and see them around town. Check out this Elk-Watching Guide for the best tips for making your trip a hit. Gather your herd and hop in the car for some family elk-spotting. Don’t forget to bring some snacks along. Not for the elk— for you! Just be sure to keep a safe distance for viewing.

Freshwater Fishing

If you’re looking to get trout and about with some fishing adventures, you’re in luck. Catch fishing fever at Ferguson’s Trout Pond, Mountain Heritage Trout Waters, or Sorrell’s Creek Trout Farm. Any one of these places are sure to lure you in for a day of entertainment. Some locations even offer grilling stations to cook what you catch creekside. Visitors can bring equipment or borrow a tackle box and rod from the Visitor’s Center with a $5 deposit which will be refunded once the equipment is returned. You can also get a 3-day fishing license to fish in the Mtn. Heritage Trout Water program for $8.  If you ask us, that sounds like the perfect way to unwind.

Bison Viewing

Stampede over to Buffalo Creek Farms for some Bison viewing. They have a viewing deck where you can watch a bison feeding for free. You may even have an opportunity to speak with Harold, the head rancher. If you wake up to find yourself with a bison-sized appetite, enjoy breakfast with the bison in a Party Caboose! These grazing giants are a magnificent sight to see. While you’re there to see the Bison, you can also visit their BC Barnyard to interact with Pygmy goats, llamas, and mini horses or wrangle up some fun in the BC Corral Playground.

Farm Animal Adventures

If nothing melts your heart like adorable farm animals, it is time to mentally prepare yourself for cuteness overload at two local farms. Winchester Creek Farms is home to alpacas and a crew of mini horses, donkeys, cows and more! You even have the opportunity to feed them. While you visit, grab a pic with Frannie, the funniest member of the farm-ily or the talented Penelope the Pig. Don’t stop there! Keep pulling those heartstrings with more cuteness at the Sugg Plantation and Alpaca Farm. Stop by for a visit and fall in love with their happy herd of animals. You’ll get a kick out of their groundskeeping goat, Hank, and their animal security team of. There is so much to love at these friendly farms, and we’d agree they’re the GOAT!

Other Wildlife Opportunities

Take the opportunity to go wild—literally! There are so many unique creatures that call Haywood their home. Did you know that The Great Smoky Mountains are the Salamander Capital of the world? If you look closely, can find these amphibians slithering around the lush forests with striking colors and patterns. While you are out hiking, be on the lookout for other woodland wildlife such as bear, deer, birds, and more. You never know what species you may stumble across in a natural encounter!

Get out and enjoy the beautiful weather with these thrilling animal encounters. Whether you spend your time reeling in some fun or visiting our four-legged neigh-bors, just be sure that you’re careful and follow safety guidelines as directed. Don’t forget to share your pictures with us using #EmbraceUnusual or tagging us @VisitNCSmokies.

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