No trip to The Great Smoky Mountains is complete without at least one loop around Cades Cove. Cades Cove can get pretty crowded, and quickly. The earlier you can get there the better off you are. The reason it gets so crowded is it is a very popular spot for viewing wildlife. In the Spring and Summer it is especially popular for viewing black bears.
The Cades Cove Loop Road has a gate at the entrance that does not get opened until sunrise. The strategy of getting there early means you want to get there 30-45 minutes before sunrise to get your spot in line. During this time of waiting on the gate to open you get to see a lot of "interesting" characters. At least the people watching passes the time.
On one of our visits to Cades Cove we had the pleasure of seeing several bears. I believe we counted about 15 in one day. That's probably no record, but that's 15 more black bears than I would've seen at home, for sure. So, I'm glad we went. We saw what looked to be a lot of moms with cubs. These bears looked a little worse for the wear. I'm no bear expert, but I'm assuming that being in the den without food and feeding young ones was the cause of this. The big bears that we saw alone, which I assume to have been males, looked much better than the moms with cubs.
We saw several cubs on our visit. Most of them not much taller than the grass they were feeding in. This made getting clear shots of them pretty tough unless they stood up. After a lot of waiting for a clear shot I decided to try and get a shot of one of the little guys "peeking" through the grass. After a lot of waiting, and several attempts, I was able to get a shot I was happy with.
You can see what I mean when I say they weren't much taller than the grass. It was very difficult to get good clear shots of them, so I waited...and waited...and waited until I could clearly see both eyes through the grass.
Equipment list: Nikon D500, Tamron SP 150-600 F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2, Sirui Tripod and K-40 Ballhead
EXIF Info: Aperture-priority, 1/800 sec, f/6.3, ISO 3200, Compensation: +1/3, 400mm