Elk viewing in Cherokee. Root for the home team.
Don’t be surprised to see your companion in the midst of a surprised double take. Was that an elk I just saw? Yes, it was. And how often do you get to gaze at a herd of elk grazing in the wild? Along with a chill up the spine, the sight of them brings the old Cherokee life of hunting and gathering back into even closer view.
A successful experiment in modern elk sustainability.
Early 2001 marked the appreaance of the first elk to set its hoof on the soil of Great Smoky Mountains National Park since the turn of the nineteenth century. The intention of this reintroduction of elk was to determine if it was possible for elk to sustain themselves here after a 200-year absence. Thirteen years later, the park and the surrounding area are home to approximately 140 elk. They are sometimes spotted grazing in the fields near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Some of the best viewing is at Cataloochee, north of Waynesville. We invite you to come and find them. But will your friends believe you when you tell them you saw wild elk? You may have some explaining to do—so bring a camera.