October’s Must See: “Shadow of a Bear” in North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Edwin Sutanto
Photo courtesy of Edwin Sutanto

If you happen to be within ten thousand miles of North Carolina’s Jackson County this month (mid-October through early November), then there is absolutely no excuse for not taking a scenic drive along Highway 64, just west of the community of Cashiers, to check out what may very well be the absolute coolest thing you have ever seen in your entire life… A bear’s shadow appear along the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina!

Each evening, this time of year and again in February, Jackson County’s autumn painted mountains serve as the backdrop of the largest and oldest Black Bear in the history of the planet!

Appearing just as the setting sun begins to near the horizon (around 5:30 p.m.), the thousand yard silhouette begins in the shape of a turtle and slowly morphs into a Black Bear, the undisputed King of the Appalachian Mountains.

According to locals, this phenomenon can best be spotted from the Rhodes Big View Overlook, atop Whiteside Mountain in Cashiers, North Carolina.

The mountain upon which the bear makes an appearance is almost a mile above sea level and within shouting distance of the point where the states of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina all meet.

The region around Cashiers, North Carolina, is one of the Tar Heel State’s most independent-minded communities. In 1927, the North Carolina General Assembly granted the tiny hamlet a charter to incorporate as a town, however, the townspeople simply placed the document on a shelf and refused to institute a local government — valuing the freedom that accompanied remaining independent.

In 2003, the General Assembly again passed legislation requesting the community to incorporate as a village, but — like their predecessors of 88 years earlier — the townspeople once again refused to do so; unwilling to face additional local taxes or an added layer of government.

One word of caution to the traveler, unlike the townspeople she graces, the Cashiers Black Bear can be a little fickle. Several conditions such as humidity, cloud cover and even vegetation can play havoc with the bear’s figure! We strongly recommend contacting the Jackson County tourism’s office before setting out to see the bear — they should be able to provide the traveler with more accurate times and conditions.

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