Home Away From Home, National Park, North Carolina

The Elk in Cataloochee Valley

Resting, relaxing, driving (riding), touring, hiking, a little bit of everything during our visit to the NC mountains. Since we couldn’t check into Pride RV Resort until noon we packed up and then walked over and said goodbye to our new friends, Elaine and Paul. We arrived in Waynesville at Pride RV just before 12:00, checked in and quickly set up on site F13, just one row back from the stream but with no one in front of us we had a good view.

After lunch we rode into Maggie Valley and went in a couple of shops. We stocked up on our once a year purchase of sweet onion relish and headed back to the rv park. On the way we stopped at one of Jerry’s favorite places, the local lumber company where he had previously bought some end cuts to work on at home. He brought ten end cuts of cherry, oak, and maple. He will surely be ready for time in his workshop when we get home. Back to the park where we spent a relaxing afternoon.

Monday evening we rode to Cataloochee Valley located in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park where we were hoping to see some elk. We had been a couple of years ago and after spending at least an hour there we saw one lone elk – at a distance so we weren’t too hopeful this time. The road to the valley is up and down, paved, graveled or dirt, and curvy, winding and narrow. As we ascended we met a number of cars coming down so we were afraid we had missed the elk. Boy where we wrong. As soon as we entered the park we began to see elk. As we continued on we were suddenly stopped by elk standing in the road or crossing by. They were close enough that I could have touched them! It reminded me of posts about Yellowstone where traffic is stopped for bison. Traffic was stopped here for elk and there were many novice photographers around including us. Unfortunately Jerry had not brought his good camera so all of our pictures were with the iPhone but they still turned out pretty good. We probably saw about 20 elk plus two bulls and we even heard their cries. They seemed to take all of the people in stride and unfortunately did not appear afraid of all. The elk were repopulated there several years ago and the population has increased a great deal. The best time to see the elk is at dusk and the best time to go back down the mountain is before dark so we obviously didn’t stay a long time, but long enough to really enjoy the beautiful animals.

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