Three Bear Cubs in a Tub: Young Bears Surprise Guests in Gatlinburg

Three cubs enjoy a hot tub

Guests were surprised when three little bear cubs hopped in their tub (photo submitted by Chris Casazza)

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Rub a dub dub, three bears in a tub.

Wait. That’s not how that goes.

Some visitors to Gatlinburg got their fairy tales all mixed up when a trio of bear cubs decided to work out some kinks, get a little relaxation going and kick back and enjoy the scenic mountain life from their rental cabin’s hot tub.

Chris Casazza, then-owner of Bear-Foot Lodge, a rental cabin in Chalet Village in Gatlinburg, said he will always remember the call from some guests one fall asking about the procedure for cleaning the hot tub.

Casazza asked why, explaining the tub had been thoroughly cleaned prior to the guests’ arrival. 

Of all the possible answers he could have received, bear cubs was probably furthest down the list. 

Turns out, guests love seeing black bears

The guests, he said, had been really hopeful about seeing bears. They’d asked the owner several times if he thought they might encounter a black bear during their stay.

Casazza couldn’t promise anything but said bears are frequently spotted near the property.

He believes they live down at the bottom of the ridge and come past the cabin on their way to the other side of the ridge.

“These particular guests were very excited about the possibility of seeing bears. They kept asking,” he said. “Are we gonna see? Are we gonna see? And I was like, ‘hopefully.’”

Oh they saw. They came, they saw and the bears swam. 

Bear cubs in Chalet Village in Gatlinburg
Bear cubs explore Chalet Village in Gatlinburg (photo by Morgan Overholt/

Three little bear cubs in a hot tub

Casazza said the guests were in the hot tub when their daughter, who had been especially keen to see bears, got her wish. 

“They just kept coming closer and closer and closer and a little one hopped up on the railing,” he said. 

The family wisely retreated to a safe spot and watched as the little one got in and took a dip, soon joined by two other cubs. Momma bear stayed close but chose not to soak her ursine footsies in the warm water. 

“They were there 10 minutes or so and moved on,” he said.

Casazza said it isn’t shocking that the three bears decided to pull a reverse Goldilocks, saying he’d seen scratches on the hot tub cover, which at the time was brand new.

“They’re constantly trying to get into the tub,” he said. “That cover has been ripped up. Apparently, they try to get in all the time.”

hot tub at vrbo cabin in Gatlinburg
Bears likely enjoy a hot tub for the same reasons that people do (photo courtesy of VRBO)

Why are bears attracted to hot tubs?

Ignorant of the bathing habits of bears, I asked Casazza why he thought they were so interested in the hot tub water. Surely, the chemically treated water would bother them, right?

Casazza went with an Occam’s razor sort of answer. 

“I think they want to take a bath in the hot water,” he said. “It’s nice. That’s why we get in, right?”

The bear’s visit has proven a popular talking point among subsequent guests and there have been other visits since. They’ve climbed the deck, peaked into windows and explored the area. 

“They get super close,” he said.

Casazza admitted that while most guests want to see bears, some are nervous, even a little scared of bears willing to get so up close and personal. 

He gives each guest tips on the do’s and don’ts of bear encounters. There are significantly more don’ts. 

“I give pointers to every guest,” he said. “I go over that specifically. Some of them are [nervous], but they all definitely want to see bears.”

vrbo cabin in Gatlinburg
The cabin is now available for rent on VRBO (photo courtesy of VRBO)

The beauty of the Smoky Mountains

Casazza, who is from Maryland, is a relative newcomer to the area. His son is a Titanic buff, so they came to Pigeon Forge on vacation to see the museum. They fell in love with the area.

“I had no idea of the treasure that’s out there,” he said.

“… We drove out not knowing what to expect and fell in love with the area. I thought it would be a great place to invest in some real estate.”

He oversaw the construction of the cabin and found the inspiration for the name Bear-Foot Lodge on site. 

“While I was there putting it all together, all I saw was bears,” he said. “I think it sort of named itself.”

Today, that cabin is now available on VRBO.

This particular cabin averages $412/night and sleeps up to eight guests.

A bear walks with two cubs in Gatlinburg
Bears are a relatively common sight in places like Chalet Village in Gatlinburg (photo by Morgan Overholt/

Bear safety in the Great Smoky Mountains

While we all enjoy a good bear sighting (and especially a cub sighting), you must keep your distance from the wildlife when visiting the Smokies.

In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it is illegal to approach a bear within 150 feet, or any distance that disturbs the bear.

Always lock up your trash, your doors (car and cabin), and keep your distance to protect yourself, your family and the bears.

Read Also: What do you do if you see a black bear?

Have you seen a bear when renting a cabin in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee? Let us know in the comments!

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John Gullion

John Gullion, Managing Editor at the Citizen Tribune, is a freelance contributor for LLC – the parent company of and

15 thoughts on “Three Bear Cubs in a Tub: Young Bears Surprise Guests in Gatlinburg”

  1. Yes ,probably 20 yrs ago. He was down at the foot off the cabin making his selection out of the trash can. What a beautiful creature.

  2. I have pictures, I was grilling outside came inside to get cheese for the burgers my daughter yells dad there’s a bear on the deck. I thought she was lying and joking with me, no it walked around the deck but by the hot tub right up to the windows I got a few pictures but it didn’t even eat the food on the grill

  3. Both times I rented a cabin in pigeon forge we had a young bear visit. They are beautiful creatures.

  4. Yes my husband and I saw a Bear last month when we came to visit Smokie Mountain some friends of ours has a room downstairs and our room was upstairs and they called us and told us to look out on our Balcony because there was a Black Bear outside👀 And we ran to the Balcony and look over and there was the Bear looking for some food and we tried taking pictures but it was to Dark but it was a great experience but I don’t want to encounter no Bears in my hitting😭😭😭🥺🥺🥺🙏🙏🙏

  5. 4/2/2021

    No and we drove to cades cove and not one bear in sight maybe our next visit hopefully

  6. I have seen them thankfully from a distance. Don’t become complacent and think they are harmless. I don’t think any interaction should accuse the bears lose what little fear of human’s and get brave. I was in a campground in Greasy Creek Tn. A mother and twos children walked a short distance to a pond with a waterfall. A large female bear ran in and grabbed the little girl (about 3 yrs old) with her mouth and ran the mom was right there within a couple of feet and went after her baby. The young boy about 10 tried to help. The mom and son were severely injured and the little girl was killed. It is not the only time or place I know that this happened. Please be bear aware.

  7. Unfortunately for me the only bears I have seen while in the Smokies was at the 3 bears general store. 🙁

  8. Yes. We have seen many bears while riding bikes in Cades Cove over the years. We saw a mama bear and 2 Cubs sitting in cherry trees, 2 were crossing the bike path, and others feeding on the wildflower pilgrimage trail. I am very hesitant to encounter any wild animals and keep a very healthy distance. We are always aware that we are in their habitat while hiking in the Smokies.

  9. We were visiting last Labor day sister and her husband arrived about 30 minutes after us…as we unpacked the vehicle and went out back to relax, sis went to make a call we kept hearing honk honk honk we thought she locked herself out she’s standing 4 ft from her vehicle and she’s telling thinking her husband is in it being goofy..back door wide open a black bear comes out with a bag of chips from subway in the console lol she totally forgot about..the bag on her nose and we came running from the yelling…but she backed up real quick when the bear came out..the console was damaged but the bear paid no mind to us..we experience them again while the house keepers cleaned the cabin near by..was one for the books..all three cubs and momma.

  10. This is one of those kinds of cutesy articles that gets people mamed or killed and, a creature whose habit they encroached upon. Perhaps black bears would be better off if the National Park Service posted signs saying, “Caution: Stupid Humans In The Area!

    They’re wild animals, not pets no matter how cute they look. A full-size adult black bear has incisors up to 3.5 inches long and the rest are for shredding flesh from carcasses, curved claws up to 3.25 inches that would rip flesh right from the bone and weigh in near 600lbs., not to mention being faster than any human ever thought about being. But make no mistake about it, although significant smaller in size an adult female black bear will fight to the death to protect her young, your death that is. Sadly though, any such encounter would most like rest in that bear being put to death because of stupid humans. Leave the bears alone, it was their home long before humans decided to invade, respect nature, what little we have left!

  11. I’ve seen several bears for 1st time last year in Cades cove, this February while going up chair lift for sky bridge I had pleasure of watching one down below me.

  12. We are just driving home from that area and ran into a momma and her 3 cubs climbing our trees by our cabin and the little cubs playing- we got a bunch of videos. It was amazing to see!

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