Bear Interrupts Alabama Family's Gatlinburg Vacation, Just Wants to Hang Out

Dangerously cute.

An Alabama family vacationing in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, wound up entertaining an unexpected visitor earlier this month.

McKinley Sellers Poe told WVLT that she and her family were headed out to a pirate show on August 5 when her father-in-law spotted a young bear.

Gatlinburg Bear
McKinley Sellers Poe

"It walked right up to the patio and hung out for a little while," she recalled. "I just wanted to hug him."

Despite its cuteness, the family stayed a safe distance away from the bear as it lounged on their porch for roughly 10 to 15 minutes. Poe said they didn't spot a mama bear nearby.

"We had the cutest little visitor this morning," she wrote alongside a photo of the bear sitting at their picnic table on Facebook.

"He's so cute and looks like he's sitting down waiting on his order," one user commented.

Bear sightings are common in the Tennessee city that serves as a gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. According to, approximately 1,500 bears live in the park—that's roughly two bears per square mile.

Remember that all bears are wild animals and can be unpredictable and potentially dangerous. If you do encounter a black bear, slowly back away while making loud noises.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency suggests keeping at least 50 yards—half a football field—between you and the bear. If your presence causes the bear to change its behavior in any way, you are too close.

For more information, visit

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles