Best places to see elk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

GSMNP officials offer advice on where and how to view elk safely in the park.
Elk are back after a century
Elk are back after a century(Mark Bias | WDTV)
Published: Dec. 11, 2022 at 11:31 AM EST
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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is rich with a variety of animals, including elk.

GSMNP officials offered advice on where and how to view elk safely.

When viewing elk, GSMNP officials warned people to keep a healthy distance of at least 50 yards, which is about half a football field.

Officials also advised visitors on the top places for elk viewing:

  • Porch of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center
  • Open fields between the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and the Smokemont Campground
  • Cataloochee Valley

The Smoky Mountains are a unique home for elk as a herd was reintroduced in 2001, according to GSMNP officials. Over 20 years later, the single herd has split into multiple harems with about 250 individual elk.

GSMNP officials said a harem is a group of female animals that are herded and/or controlled by one or two male animals for the purpose of mating. On the other hand, a herd is simply a large group of animals that live, feed or migrate together.