Shadow of the Bear, a very unique Seasonal Experience
The elusive “Shadow of the Bear” appears seasonally for just 30 minutes a day
Each spring and fall, the side of Highway 64 near Cashiers in southwestern North Carolina becomes a location for one of the most unique leaf-looking experiences in the country – the Shadow of the Bear.
This naturally occurring phenomenon makes an appearance for just 30 minutes on sunny days at about 5:30 pm mid-October through early November. The autumn/spring light starts with a small dark shadow at the bottom of the valley, and grows until it finally evolves into the bear.
Make sure to bring your camera to capture this unique sight and spectacular view as the sun sets behind Whiteside Mountain. The mountain, with an elevation of 4,930 feet, boasts sheer rock cliffs that are among the highest in the eastern United States. It provides a splendid setting for viewing leaves throughout autumn, especially during the emergence of the Shadow of the Bear.
The Shadow of the Bear also occurs in late winter from mid-February through early March.
It is best viewed on clear days.
While waiting for the Bear to show up at Rhodes Big View Overlook, you’ll have awesome panoramic views from your left of Cold Mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway over to the Devil’s Courthouse off the shoulder of Whiteside mountain on your right. These are truly breathtaking views of southern Jackson County.
Tourists, locals and photographers can usually be seen waiting for the bear to appear at the Jackson county line on Hwy 64. The best spot for seeing the shadow is right on Highway 64 at a place called Rhodes Big View Overlook. It is about 4 miles west of Cashiers, NC.
Please be careful though. Hwy 64 is only two lanes and there is only a very narrow pull off area for you to park. There is also a blind 90 degree curve in the road here. Please keep children and pets in hand at all times.
We can thank Jerry Jaynes for this awesome picture of the Bear. He Uploaded it on Nov 3, 2010. If it hadn’t been for him many of us locals may have never even noticed the Bear as we go about our busy day driving past the shadow without ever looking.
Jackson County Tourism Destination Authority and Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce have a one-minute time-lapse video on YouTube.