Elk Viewing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Observe These Majestic Animals

The elk of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park spend most of their day browsing on grasses and fords in open meadows such as Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum, as well as the Cataloochee Valley. Visit at dawn or dusk to catch them at their most active. Target early summer to see the newly born calves and in September to October for the rut (mating season) when bulls gather cows into large herds and you can hear the elk bugle.

Where to Find Elk in the Smokies

Elk Watching at Oconaluftee

Elk were originally native to the Smoky Mountains, but over 200 years ago the population died off to extinction in the area. In 2001, the National Park Service successfully reintroduced elk to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since…

Elk Watching at Cataloochee

In 2001, elk were released in Cataloochee Valley as part of an experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park. The herd can be seen regularly in the fields of the valley, especially in the early morning and evening hours. Elk may also…

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