After unexpectedly seeing a huge bull elk in Maggie Valley earlier in the day on Wednesday, June 25th and enjoying a pleasant walk around Lake Junaluska, we drove to the Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at dusk to see the nightly arrival of the elk coming out of the woods into open fields.
This exodus of the elk takes place daily at dawn and dusk and always draws a crowd of residents from the area (like us!) and tourists visiting the area (like Amber and Abby!) to watch as they make their way through the vast fields as they would feed.
Here are some photos from that early evening.
You can see the sun going down on the right side of this photo of a lone mama elk in the field as we arrived at dusk.
A young female elk comes out of the woods near the gravel road we all use to enter the area of the valley where the elk come to graze.
Following the GSMNP rules, I did not approach the elk and planned to stay the requisite 150 feet away using my zoom lens, but this one walked toward me as I stood very still, so I took advantage of the opportunity.
Abby had a lot of fun watching the elk.
As we were leaving, we caught sight of this young male elk. A park ranger told us that the female elks had chased all the bull elks out of the valley for the time being, but that will change when rutting season begins in a few weeks.