Cataloochee Valley Elk

A bull elk in Cataloochee Valley, North Carolina. October 20, 2010.

One of the high points of our visit to North Carolina was getting to see the elk in the Cataloochee Valley.  We got up early on a foggy Wednesday morning and drove to Cataloochee.

Elk once roamed the southern Appalachian Mountains, but they were eliminated from the region by over-hunting and loss of habitat.  The last elk in North Carolina was believed to have been killed in the late 1700s.

In February, 2001, there was an experimental release of 25 elk into the Cataloochee Valley of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  In 2002, another 27 elk were introduced.

We first saw elk in a field along Ranger Station Road, the main road leading into the valley.  There were twenty of so elk in a field bordering the road.  The bull elk in the picture above was apparently the dominate male, and his bugling call could be clearly heard.
Elk grazing in a field in Cataloochee Valley.  October 20, 2010.
The herd we saw consisted mostly of females and young elk, although there were one or two other males in the herd as well.

A bull elk relaxing in a field in Cataloochee Valley, North Carolina. October 20, 2010.

We then drove over to see the Palmer House on National Park Road.  As we pulled into the parking area, we saw two more bull elk in a field across the road.  The bull in the picture above was one of those bulls.

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16 Responses to “Cataloochee Valley Elk”

  1. jlshall (Joysweb) Says:

    What wonderful shots! Must have been a really thrilling sight. The antlers on those two are absolutely magnificent.

  2. Sandra Says:

    I am so glad they put them there and that they live in a somewhat protected forrest. they are so beautiful

  3. diane Says:

    That is good to hear that the elk are being reintroduced into the area.

  4. bertN Says:

    I’m glad that the reintroduction of the elk in the valley is coming along fine. I hope they’ll be protected from hunters for good.

  5. Susie Says:

    How neat to see such beautiful animals George. Glad ya’ll got to see them.

  6. Darla Says:

    Amazing creatures. Why were they hunted? For food?

  7. Mildred Says:

    Great pictures George. So glad you had this opportunity. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

  8. Kathy Says:

    They seem to be doing well. I bet it was a thrill to have spotted so many of them!

  9. Ginny Hartzler Says:

    Great pictures! Wish I could hear them, too!

  10. Sylvia Kirkwood Says:

    Terrific captures, George! And how great to know they’ve made such a comeback! Amazing how long it had been since there were moose there! Always enjoy the trips you take us on and the information! Hope you and Betsey have a wonderful weekend!

    Sylvia

  11. Fishing Guy Says:

    George: I love the Elk pnotos. You got fairly close to them and got neat shots.

  12. ewok1993 Says:

    what a beautiful animal.

  13. Neal Says:

    They are beautiful animals. I love your last shot…I didn’t get my camera out there because of the rain. I should have put batteries in my other camera and used it….oh well, it’s too late now. 🙂

  14. Sandra Says:

    we are watching our sky today and hoping the clouds mean rain. love all the pics especailly the big bull with the beautiful rack

  15. Mary Says:

    Those elk are so magnificent looking. Really beautiful.

  16. Scenic Sunday #121: Cataloochie Valley « Senior Moments Says:

    […] posted about the elk we saw in the Cataloochee Valley of the Smoky Mountains a couple of weeks ago.  But our visit to the valley was scenic for more […]

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