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A Guide to Santeetlah Lakeside Wildlife

From Our Developer and Long-Time Resident José Rosado

Tucked away in the secluded mountains of Western North Carolina, Santeetlah Lakeside and its surrounding areas are a haven for aquatic life, woodland creatures, and foliage of all shapes and sizes.

Here, you’ll get to experience nature and wildlife unlike any other place in the world. From the water to the sky, it’s a true sanctuary for humans, animals, and flora alike.


Fed by multiple mountain streams and surrounded by over 90% of protected shoreline, Lake Santeetlah is a fisherman’s paradise with Snowbird and Santeetlah Creeks—two of the best trout streams in Western North Carolina—flowing right into the lake. And in the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park, several other world-class trout streams provide perfect spots for wild trout fishing, like Eagle Creek, Hazel Creek, and Twenty Mile Creek. And if you’d like to make a trip of it, there are various remote wilderness streams and waterfalls you can hike to for a day of fishing—or you can camp overnight and cook your catch for dinner.

Whether you’re fishing for sport or for supper, Lake Santeetlah and its surrounding streams provide a variety of fish that make every cast an adventure. Here are just some of the fish you can expect to find at the end of your line:

  • Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass
  • Walleye Pike
  • Black and White Crappie
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Bluegill
  • Yellow Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Brown Trout


Be sure to bring your binoculars to Santeetlah Lakeside! Overhead, the sky is filled an assortment of our feathered friends. Birdwatchers can spend hours trailing elusive bird varieties, such as the chickadee, tufted titmouse, cardinals, jays, nuthatch, sparrows, and more.

Bald eagles can be found fishing and nesting around the lake and teaching their hatchlings to fly in late spring and early summer. At sunset, swallows and bats dip and dive in the evening sky, catching flying insects for dinner. And of course, the seasonal changes bring a multitude of migratory birds and duck species to fill the lake.

Here are some of the exciting birds you may see on your next Santeetlah Lakeside visit:


  • Bald Eagle
  • Wild Turkey
  • Grouse
  • Red Tailed Hawk
  • Swallow


  • Hummingbird
  • Canadian Goose
  • Loon
  • Blue and Green Heron
  • Osprey


Woodchucks and Otters and Bears. Oh My! In the surrounding woods and national forests, all types of woodland creatures abound. Deer and bears are sometimes seen swimming across the lake or along the banks enjoying a drink of water or a bath. While paddleboarding or kayaking, you may be greeted by curious otters looking to see what you’re up to.

And while hiking, you may hear the rustlings of wild boars in the distance—rumored to be descendants of the escaped wild boars that were imported in the early 20th century by George Gordon Moore, an agent of the Whiting Manufacturing Company who was given 1,600 acres of land to establish a European-style shooting preserve on nearby Hooper Bald.

When hiking or camping and even in the water, you have plenty of chances to spot of some our favorite furry friends. Just remember to keep your distance and stay safe!

  • Deer
  • Black Bear
  • Squirrel
  • Chipmunk
  • Otter
  • Beaver
  • Woodchuck


As the most biodiverse park in the National Park system, the Great Smokey Mountains National Park is home to thousands of lifeforms and organisms—including a wide range of insects that would make any entomologist buzz with excitement.

Fortunately, there is a significant lack of biting and annoying insects at Lake Santeetlah. Instead, you’ll find a variety of mesmerizing species, from fireflies and ladybugs to butterflies, beetles, and moths. From May through July, thousands of visitors flock to nearby Cade’s Cove for the annual synchronous firefly display—so many that there is an actual lottery to win one of the roughly 1,000 prized tickets to nature’s light show.  

Needless to say, an insect kit would be the perfect gift for visiting grandchildren, which could entertain them for hours as they learn more about the mountains’ diverse ecosystem. Because when it comes to interesting insects, there’s plenty to see here. Some of our favorites include:

  • Synchronous Fireflies
  • Blue Ghost Fireflies
  • Luna Moth
  • Ladybugs
  • Variety of Butterflies and Moths


Surrounded by old-growth forests like the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, multiple plant species have been able to grow and thrive untouched for years. While hiking, you can come across huge poplars, giant red oaks, and majestic hemlocks, along with several other tree varieties that have been able to grow freely for several centuries.

In the spring, the Great Smoky Mountains become a world-class destination for wildflower photographers and nature enthusiasts. Along the roads, trails, meadows, and mountain balds, the Smokies come alive with fresh blooms of all shapes and colors.

And if you’re a fan of azaleas, Graham County is the place to be. It’s home to a unique variety of the native flame azalea, which is celebrated each year at the Native Azalea Festival. And in 2018, nearby Robbinsville was even designated as an official Azalea City by the Azalea Society of America.

Around Lake Santeetlah, you’ll be treated to even more varieties of blossoming wildflowers and flowering trees, coming to bloom throughout the different seasons:

  • Rhododendron
  • Mountain Laurel
  • Mimosa
  • Dogwood
  • Sourwood*

*Fun Fact: You can actually eat Sourwood leaves!

Graham County, the Great Smoky Mountains, and all the surrounding national parks and old-growth forests are what make Santeetlah Lakeside the ideal destination for nature lovers. As a haven for wildlife, it provides an experience unlike any other.

Secure Your Sanctuary Today

As we continue construction on the Santeetlah Lakeside luxury condos, now is the opportune moment to secure a low-maintenance vacation home that provides unlimited access to your own private nature retreat, any time you’d like.

Contact our team to learn more about our available unit options or schedule a tour to see Santeetlah Lakeside’s diverse wildlife for yourself.

For sales information, visit
Private Mountain Communities, Grove Arcade
1 Page Avenue, Suite 150, Asheville, NC 28801

Property tours by appointment only