Friday, October 26, 2012

Fall Colors and Elk in the Smoky Mountains–North Carolina

fall colors

It was another beautiful day here in the Smoky Mountains, so once everybody was done with work/school, we got in the car and drove up into the mountains in search of fall colors and elk . . . neither were hard to find!

smoky mountains

The Cataloochee area is well-known for its elk herd, and it’s just a short drive up and over the mountain to find them.  Nicolas wanted to get some experience with mountain driving, so he took the wheel and headed up the mountain.

nick driving

The roads were steep and twisty-turny,

road sign


but he wasn’t worried at all, and handled the car just fine!  We stopped at an overlook to enjoy the view of the countryside,


and the boys got some use out of their new binoculars!


Tom did, too . . .


when he wasn’t trying to figure out how to open the bearproof garbage can!

bearproof can












A few more miles, and we came to a meadow where the elk were gathering.

elk herd

They were still pretty far back from the road, though, so we continued along to see if we would find more down the road.


There were a couple more meadows, but no elk in sight.  We did see lots of signs warning people to stay out of the fields, though!

elk warning

The road followed a creek,


and passed by an old homestead that belonged to one of the original settlers of the Cataloochee area.


The house wasn’t in too bad of shape, but the foundation was a little iffy!


We reached the end of the road, and met up with Bill – a volunteer in the Elk Bugle Corp.


He gave us a few suggestions for areas to check out before the cold weather moves in on Sunday.  We turned the car around, and headed back the way we had come from.  Arriving back to the meadow where we had seen the elk earlier, there were quite a few more cars parked along the side of the road!



The reason was that the elk had moved much closer to the road, and were a lot easier to see!

elk herd_2

We counted 23 elk, including the big guy,

bull elk

and a couple of babies!

baby elk

We stayed and watched the elk with everybody else for awhile, and then we got back in the car to continue the drive back to the RV.  We got to an area that looked like some elk were being contained,



but when we talked to the volunteer, she assured us that these guys are free to come and go – they just happen to like the grass in this area, so they spend a lot of time here!

Tom and the boys were drawn over by the volunteers’ little electric vehicle,


but soon were checking out the antlers that she had in the back!


Bryce decided he wanted to try them on, but he had to be careful not to aggravate the bull elk!

bryce elk

These guys weren’t too interested, though – they were too busy eating!

two bulls

After chatting with the volunteers for awhile, we were all pretty much starving, so we decided it was definitely time to get back for dinner! 

The fall colors on the drive back over the mountain were even prettier, in the setting sun!

fall colors_2

fall colors_3

Nicolas got us safely back to the RV Park, where we quickly grilled our Yoder steaks from Shipshewana – YUM! We should have bought more of those – they have the best steak!!

Tomorrow we’ll go out for another driving adventure, and then we’ll probably have a couple of indoor days as the temperature drops early in the week.  We’re not supposed to get any rain or snow, though . . . so that’s a good thing!!


  1. Keep an eye to the weather channel as hurricane Sandy is heading up along the coast. They are saying she'll be slow moving and could drop lots of rain causing flash floods. Hope your on high ground. Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. Thanks, Rick! We have been watching the weather, and it looks like we're going to get some chilly days and showers, but nothing worse than that . . . thank goodness!

  2. HI GUYS,


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