Cataloochee Elk

Our excursion for the day with Maria and Franz was to look for elk in the Smoky Mountain National Park. The entrance to the park is just a short distance from our house, and the road is the most dramatically mountainous road in the area. It’s a lane and a half wide, twisting and turning over the mountain. On the way to Cataloochee Valley, we stopped at a turn in the road where there is a short climb to a viewing area. My best autumnal photo was taken as we were leaving that view.

110617 Franz John Maria leaving overlook near Cataloochee.jpg

A front shot is included to show the faces.

110617 Franz Maria John going to Cataloochee.jpg

I would have been satisfied with spotting the elk at a distance. We were there in the middle of the day, not at prime time of dawn or dusk. We took some photos of part of the herd by zooming in.

110617 Cataloochee elk grazing.jpg

There were numerous signs warning people to stay at least 150 feet from the animals and not to enter the meadow if they were there. After turning around, we found elk wading into the stream right beside the road. We were the first car with a ring-side seat. What a view!

110617 Cataloochee elk in stream.jpg

One animal crossed the road, and I thought that was very special.

110617 Cataloochee elk on road.jpg

In a minute or so it passed right by my window. I could have sworn she was talking wordlessly and boasting that she had the law on her side, and I wasn’t allowed to get out of the car. I had news for her. I didn’t want to get in her path!

110617 Cataloochee elk passed by car window.jpg

This was the documentation of our day, but the best part was unlimited talk from our morning walk to bed time. We never ran out of subjects to explore together. I admire Maria and Franz for not flagging, despite talking in English all day long.

31 thoughts on “Cataloochee Elk

  1. Great photographs Anne. I didn’t know Elk were as big as your photos indicate. I would have gladly stayed in the car too. That last girl looks feisty…makes me smile!


  2. Those images are breath-taking! So happy you had such an incredible day. And now it’s documented so you can come back and re-live it in full color.


    1. It was an amazing thing to be so close to the elk. I think it even surprised the park ranger. She felt the animals were comfortable because there were so few cars in that area on a Monday. There were probably tons of people the day before.


  3. Thank you so much for sharing your trip, Anne! The views are breathtaking! And I haven’t seen an elk live in the wild since the Mogollon Rim in AZ – that would be over 20 years now. Hmm… I need to change things up. <3!


    1. The rutting season has finished now. I think September is a good time to go to Cataloochee, but I could be wrong. I would choose October to see changing leaves. Any day is a good day to visit Smoky Mountain National Park! It’s the most visited national park in the US.


    1. Those were about the prettiest colors we saw this year, and we were so glad our Austrian friends were able to see them. The color is gone now, but daughter Lise is a colorful character. She’s adding sparkle to our lives for a couple of weeks.

      Liked by 1 person

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