The Great Smoky Mountains National Park began a program of releasing elk into the Park in 2001. Elk were once native to the eastern forests, but they disappeared in the early 1800s, victim of over-hunting and loss of habitat. The best place to view the elk herd is in the Cataloochee Valley.
The elk above was peacefully grazing along the roadside in the Cataloochee when I stopped to take his picture. Just as I was finishing up a Park Ranger drove up and scared the elk back into the woods. I guess this was to protect the elk and the tourists from an encounter on the road, but it seemed a little comical to me.
Last fall I visited the Rocky Mountains National Park in Colorado. Driving through Estes Park, which is Colorado’s version of Gatlinburg, traffic was stopped while a heard of over 50 elk meandered across the road!
Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.