No?! Well, let me make a suggestion: Plan a pre-fall trip to Haywood County and visit Cataloochee Valley, the birthplace of the reintroduced elk population in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. During fall breeding season, also known as “rut”, male bull elks perform their legendary “bugle” calls to attract female cows and other bulls. At this time, bull elks can be heard bugling and are often seen sparring with one another in an overall attempt to impress female elk. This annual ritual typically begins in early to mid September and can last into the early weeks of October. But of course, we here at the Haywood Tourism Development Authority get the inside scoop and here it is: The bugling has begun! While the bugling is in its “early-rut” stages, it will continue to increase as we get further into September. So what are you waiting for? Make your plans now to witness this special time of the year for the elk of Cataloochee Valley! Here’s some helpful information about the area from our friends at the National Park Service: Visit Cataloochee Valley
Now that we’ve sparked your interest, here’s a few tips to help you plan your visit. The elk of Cataloochee Valley are most visible at dawn and dusk, so plan accordingly. Pack a picnic breakfast or dinner and explore the historic valley while you wait. Travel back in time with visits to several original homes, a school-house and a church that tell the story of one of the first pioneer settlements in Haywood County. To get the most out of your visit, book a guided eco-tour of the area through Cataloochee Valley Tours. They will guide you to the best viewing spots and will share all the wondrous wildlife and historic heritage of Cataloochee. Not into guided tours? That’s fine! Cataloochee is easily explorable on your own. But as with any wildlife, please practice caution and keep your distance from the elk or any other wildlife you encounter in the valley. They may be cute, but they are also wild and are best enjoyed from a distance. And please do not try to feed wildlife; it is just as dangerous for them as it is for you.