Spot the “Shadow of the Bear” in North Carolina

Mother Nature’s surprise for visitors to Whiteside Mountain in western North Carolina

The Shadow of the Bear appears daily from mid October to mid November as the sun dips behind Whiteside Mountain near Cashiers, North Carolina. For about 30 minutes, the shadow morphs from a tadpole to a gopher to a bear and then a weasel. But it’s all in the imagination of the beholder. Wandering Rose Travels was hiking in the area and stopped by for something quirky without much expectation. It turned out to be something really neat. Cool factoid: Rhodes Big View overlook, best viewing spot for the shadow, is protected forever by a local land conservation group that has conserved 3,000 acres of private land in the area.

The shadow first appears as a tadpole and then a gopher (in our imagination).
Now it looks like a bear...
As the sun continued to set we saw the bear morph to a weasel.

Want to see the bear shadow? These tips will help

  • It’s located in western North Carolina along Hwy. 64 in between Cashiers and Highlands. The bear may be viewable from other locales, but we chose this popular spot.
  • The bear starts to appear about an hour and 15 minutes before sunset. We visited prior to daylight savings time and he began his appearance around 5:30 p.m.
  • We chose the Rhodes Big View overlook on Hwy. 64, but it’s not marked well. It’s approximately 4.3 miles west of the stoplight in Cashiers. Arrive early as it gets crowded. We arrived about 45 minutes before the bear’s scheduled appearance.
  • There’s no parking lot; however, there’s limited pull-off parking on both sides of the highway, but be extremely careful. It’s located on a curve and that road is well traveled. Safety first!
  • The Shadow of the Bear can also be seen in late winter, mid-February to early March.
Appearing only briefly each fall and spring, the bear shadow always draws a crowd

Want more on the bear and area attractions?

  • Play on NC is a great website with lots of things to do in the area.
  • Discover Jackson County, NC has more on the bear shadow and the scoop on this area.
  • Land Rover used local locations and the bear shadow in this recent commercial.
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