What do majestic bull elk, black bears, whitetail deer and bald eagles all have in common?

They all call the northern Cumberland Plateau home! It’s true. The Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area is home to an estimated 300 black bears — making the bear density here just slightly less than the bear density in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Bald eagles winter by the dozens on Dale Hollow Lake just to our west, so these majestic symbols of American liberty can often be seen here — especially during the winter months. To the east, in the Cumberland Mountains, you’ll find elk; there are few things as thrilling to the souls who love wide open places as standing on a mountaintop and hearing the bugle of a bull elk on a frosty October morning.

The Big South Fork is also home to one of Tennessee’s largest populations of wild boar. Whitetail deer and wild turkey can be found throughout the region. You may see otters playing in the river or a red fox darting across the roadway in front of you.