Believe it or not, elk haven’t been a thriving species in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park forever. Centuries ago, elk were an important part of the mountains, but as a result of over-hunting and loss of their habitat due to the creation of the national park, elk were completely eliminated.
Beginning of the Reintroduction of the Elk
In the spring of 2001, the National Park Service released 25 elk into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with hopes that the species would thrive once again. Upon releasing the elk, it was unsure whether they would adapt to the environment. The release was part of a program to reintroduce the elk to the mountains, so they released another 24 elk in 2002.
2013 marked a new record for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park elk. In 2013, 24 elk were confirmed to have been born through the summer, and 19 of them survived through fall. The park is now home to 120 total elk, with a majority residing in the Cataloochee Valley area.
Where to Stay to See the Mountains
When you stay with Alpine Mountain Chalets, you have a chance to catch a glimpse of one of these beautiful elk. All of our Gatlinburg chalets and cabins sit only a couple of minutes from the national park. Make sure to pack a camera and binoculars, so you can catch a great look at the elk and other wildlife throughout the mountains.
To start planning your stay in one of our premier Gatlinburg chalets or cabins, give us a call at (888) 783-0977. You can also take a look at our great deals on our specials page. We are excited to help you plan your vacation to the mountains!