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The Shadow of the Bear in Cashiers, NC appears only twice a year on the floor of the valley of Whiteside Mountain and it has captivated onlookers for centuries. It’s on locals’ bucket lists and it’s always a welcome surprise to vacationers. Whether you’re staying on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau and you’re nearby or you’ve decided to take a day trip to Cashiers to see it, you’ll be happy you got to see one of nature’s coolest natural occurrences.

The best way to see the Shadow of the Bear in Cashiers, NC is at an overlook off Highway 64 in the fall from mid-October to Early November. The Shadow of the Bear in Cashiers, NC phenomenon also appears in the winter from mid-February to early March.

Where Can I See the Shadow of the Bear?

where can i see the shadow of the bear cashiers nc

The naturally occurring Shadow of the Bear can be seen between Cashiers and Highlands in Western North Carolina. Seeing the bear emerge is something both locals in Jackson County and visitors look forward to each year. As the sun sets behind Whiteside Mountain, people gather along Highway 64 at Rhodes Big View Overlook for about 30 minutes to watch a shadow form.

It slowly and almost magically forms into what many say is a bear and the full bear starts to emerge. The shadow can be seen in the fall and the golden-yellow, burnt orange and red-tinged fall foliage makes the spectacle even more charming. It can also be seen in the winter time, giving it a mystical winter wonderland backdrop and feel. The mountain’s sheer rock cliffs only add to the beauty of the phenomenon.

Some say the shadow reminds them of other animals, like a mouse or hippo. However, the overall general consensus is that it is indeed a bear.

“When I first moved up here, this was on the top of my list to go and see,” said Landmark Broker, Kat Thompson. “We caught it in November and it did not disappoint.”

The Cherokee Indians believed it was a black bear and that it protected them from a monster that lived in Whiteside Mountain. The bear is sacred to the Cherokee and revered in their culture.

Let us know what you see! Do you see a bear or something else?

When Can I See the Shadow of the Bear?

The Shadow of the Bear in Cashiers, North Carolina is a popular sight to behold in the Eastern United States and it’s most visible in the fall on a clear, sunny day from about 5:30 to 6:15 p.m.

It can be seen on the curve in the road that links Cashiers and Highlands together. Highway 64 can be a busy highway and the overlook doesn’t have any parking. Please use caution when viewing the shadow. It’s likely to be more crowded in the fall. If you don’t mind the slightly colder temperatures in late winter, it probably won’t be as crowded then.

Cherokee Legends of the Black Bear

The Cherokee Indians lived on the Plateau long before the settlers who founded the town and the black bear is a central part of Cherokee folklore and legends. The Indian tribe revered the black bear for its courage and presence as a literal force of nature. They saw him not only as a powerful animal, but also as a spirit being.

The Cherokee also believed that a terrifying monster named Spearfinder lived on Whiteside Mountain and that the Shadow Bear’s presence at the base symbolized his wish to protect them.

Where to Stay in Western North Carolina

where to stay in western north carolina

It’s easy to find a place to stay to see the Shadow of the Bear in Cashiers, NC when you work with a professional vacation rental company. Since Rhodes Big View is between Cashiers and Highlands, they’re both convenient places to stay.

Cashiers and Highlands have been popular vacation destinations for centuries so you know you’ll be in good hands. These quaint mountain towns have all of the rustic charm you need. Pair that with mountain vistas, hiking trails, waterfalls, and beautiful views of the area everywhere you go, and you may never want to leave. Both locations offer visitors unique shops and restaurants like Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley, Buck’s Coffee, The Ugly Dog, Highland Hiker, T.J. Bailey’s and more. Cashiers is more spread out than Highlands and Highlands is a little more upscale than Cashiers. When you stay in a Highlands vacation rental, you are in-town and can enjoy fine dining and you’ll appreciate the cosmopolitan amenities in a cozy, mountain town.

If you choose a vacation home in or near the Sapphire Valley Resort, you’ll enjoy access to country club amenities, the more than 55-acre Fairfield Lake, pool, sauna, gym and arcade. This is a great option for families and rentals are close to Cashiers and other in town amenities.

Take advantage of the best of both worlds when you stay on Lake Glenville or Lake Toxaway. Lake Glenville is further away from the outlook viewing area and it’s public. If you’re looking for more privacy and something closer to the Shadow of the Bear, Lake Toxaway is more your style.

How Far is Asheville from Cashiers, NC?

If you’re thinking about taking a day trip to see the Shadow of the Bear in Cashiers, NC, why not stay in the area for a day and see what the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau has to offer? If you’re not used to winding mountain roads at night, you may also feel more comfortable staying in the area, since Asheville, for example, is about a 90-minute drive from Cashiers. If you’d like to stay in the Plateau area and explore the waterfalls, mountains, and all the unique things this part of Western North Carolina has to offer, Landmark has options for you.

Plan your Shadow of the Bear Vacation with Landmark

Now that you know how, when and where to see the Shadow of the Bear in Cashiers, NC, you’ll need to find a place to stay.

Since Big Rhodes Outlook is a few miles west of Cashiers and five miles east of Highlands, you can stay in either location. Other areas on the Plateau like Sapphire, Lake Glenville and Lake Toxaway are nearby and would also be a great option.

The Shadow of the Bear in Cashiers, NC is visible from mid-October to Early November and from mid-February to early March. If it’s too late to plan your trip around those times, there is also a music festival called Bear Shadow in Highlands in late April.

Let us know if you have any questions about the naturally occurring Shadow of the Bear in Cashiers, NC, questions about the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau area, or about staying with Landmark. We love and treasure the place we call home and we can’t wait to share it with you. We’ll do everything we can to make sure you have a memorable stay. Welcome to our home!