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Elk at Cataloochee Valley

The Cataloochee Valley area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has taken on new residents. Yes, in a region famous for its abundance of wildlife and plant life, the elk are back. Several years ago and the elk would not have been here. Elk, who thrived in the Appalachian Mountains for countless years, were hunted out of existence in North Carolina in the late 18th century. Elk were reintroduced to the park in February 2001, joining other reintroduced populations including the river otter, the peregrine falcon and three species of fish.

The best times to see the elk are early morning, late evening and sometimes on cloudy summer days before or after storms. Relax in the Southern Mountains of North Carolina and stay in one of our beautiful Maggie Valley Cabin Rentals. Take a drive through the park into Cataloochee Valley, and you'll see them, grazing quietly along the roads and in the meadows. A male may sit in tall grasses, the spread of his antlers visible above the green, surrounded by cows and calves, with an occasional visit from a wild turkey. Federally designated in 1934 and named a World Heritage Site in 1983, the 800 square miles of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park lie along the shared border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The park's mountains range in elevation from 875' to more than 6,000'.

To get to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cataloochee Valley take I-40 to exit 20 (HWY 276). Turn right onto Cove Creek Road, which will be the first road on the right. This road will lead you into the park and Cataloochee Valley. The road will turn from pavement to gravel and then back to pavement. Once on Cove Creek Road, it will take approximately 25 minutes to reach the park.


Cataloochee Valley

Cataloochee Valley

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