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Elk and wild Turkeys were spotted this last week in the area of the Oconoloftee Visitors Center in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, between the Smokemont Campground and the town of Cherokee on the highway, U.S. 441.  I was off on vacation camping at the Smokemont Campground where I spotted these animals and the birds.

The Elk herd had been re-introduced back into the Great Smoky Mountains in about 2001 and seem to be doing quite well.  I spotted 2 huge bulls and two unique groups of cow elk.  I believe these are Roosevelt Elk but I am guessing about that.  The turkeys were along side of the road on U.S. 441 as well.

The bull Elk ran into the area next to the parking lot of the Oconoloftee Visitors Center where it definitely was not supposed to be.  Apparently there  was an enticing small water hole with mud and the bull beelined straight for that mud and wallowed happily.  After just a few moments, the elk was encouraged by a Federal employee (probably assigned to keep the elk in safe spots for themselves and the crowds of people observing the herd) via a pop of soft gun pellets and shouting to leave – and it quickly did.

I recommend going to Smokemont Campground in early Fall mid-week as it was uncrowded and had very clean restrooms and is beautiful (quite crowded in the areas near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge on the other side of the mountain an hour away).  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo.  Enjoy!




Comments on: "Elk & Turkeys at Oconoloftee in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park" (5)

  1. Loved the photo’s of the elk! They are so beautiful and I don’t believe I have ever seen one “in the wild”. The male had beautiful antlers. Happy to hear you enjoyed your camping vacation!

    • Hi Cathy, Many thanks. Yes, the Elk are magnificent. I have been fortunate to have seen some in CA in a preserve and also in Yellowstone, but these Elk in North Carolina were a pleasant surprise. Apparently they once roamed the countryside in the Smoky Mountains long long ago and have been successfully brought back. Have a great weekend!

  2. These by the way, are wild Elk that can mostly go wherever they wish (some do have tracking collars). The fences you can see in the photos are of a historic farm museum depicting life on farms of the region in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.

  3. What a nice trip that must have been! I’m happy to learn that they have that wildlife there again!

    • Hi Montucky, I enjoyed the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a lot. Of course, we avoided the crowds at Newfound Gap (4 tour busses!) and did not go to Clingman’s Dome (another crowd was likely there too). We did eat lunch in Pigeon Forge as Gatlinburg was very packed with people and limited parking there. By the way, we did go about 6 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway – gorgeous! Did not take the trailer there though. Too narrow and winding. Have a wonderful coming week!

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