Image: Bear shadow
Jerry Jaynes  /  AP
This photo taken on Oct. 24, 2009, at 5:55 p.m. local time and released by Jerry Jaynes for Jackson County Tourism Authority shows a shadow resembling a bear behind Whiteside Mountain in southern Jackson County near Cashiers, N.C.
updated 10/4/2010 5:15:10 PM ET 2010-10-04T21:15:10

A unique annual phenomenon is about to take place again on a North Carolina mountainside where the autumn light creates a shadow shaped like a bear.

The shadow of the bear shows up from mid-October through early November as the sun sets behind Whiteside Mountain in southern Jackson County.

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It's best seen on clear days around 5:30 p.m., with the show lasting for about a half-hour. Tourists and photographers hoping to see it often gather at the Rhodes Big View overlook along Highway 64, a little more than 4 miles from the town of Cashiers.

The Jackson County Visitors Center describes the phenomenon as a bear-like shadow coming "out of hibernation" at a time of year when the mountain is covered with colorful fall foliage. The image is created by a series of small, bumpy peaks on the mountain that block the sun's rays and cast shadows on the slopes and valley below as the sun sinks lower in the sky. The same phenomenon happens again in late winter for a few weeks beginning mid-February.

The area is about 75 miles southwest of Asheville, N.C., near the borders of South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

For more details on visiting the area, go to http://www.MountainLovers.com or call 800-962-1911.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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