Since moving to Western North Carolina the one thing that has never ceased to amaze us is the beauty and grandeur of our surroundings.
Fall in the mountains is a magical display of color intermingled with the abundance of wildlife that are preparing to settle in for the winter.
Both the bears and elk are getting ready to for the winter months by foraging in the forests and meadows looking for berries, grasses, bark, acorns, and buds from shrubs and trees.
Fall is ‘rut’ season for elk. The bull elk are rounding up females and claiming their territory. Elk have been eradicated from Western North Carolina since the mid-1700’s when the last one was killed.
In 2001, 25 elk from the land between the Lakes National Recreation Area along the Tennessee-Kentucky border, were imported into the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. In 2002 another 27 were imported to expand the herd.
We recently took a leisurely drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway into the Great Smokey Mountain National Park to the Cherokee reservation stopping in some of the towns along the way. Our final goal, camera in tow, was to drive into the Cataloochee Valley to view the herd of elk in the late afternoon when they are out grazing.
We counted over 30 elk in the valley. We hope you enjoy these images as much as we enjoyed the time we spent taking them. When visiting us in Asheville consider a day trip, only 1 1/2 hours away, and ride out to the park for a personal encounter with these majestic animals.