Smoky Mountain Elk Fest 2019 Photo Contest Winners

Two bull elks headbutting in the morning fog at Cataloochee Valley | Photo by Adrienne Rainy

We asked you to submit your best elk images, and with over 400 images submitted – our judges had their work cut out for them! On September 14th the winners were displayed at the inaugural Smoky Mountain Elk Fest.  We are excited to officially announce the winners and honorable mentions of the 2019 Smoky Mountain Elk Fest Photo Contest.

1st Place: Adrienne Rainey (Featured Image Above)

The grand prize of a 2-night stay at The Swag Inn valued at $2,500 goes to Adrienne Rainey, from South Carolina, for her stunning photo of two elk fighting for superiority during the rut season. Rainy says “The main reason for our trip every year is to see the elk, and the fall foliage is an added bonus. It’s very peaceful to just watch them graze, roam, and to hear the bull elk bugle.”

2nd Place: Kalley Cook

A young bull elk hiddin in the fog of Cataloochee Valley | Photo by Kalley Cook

Second place goes to Kalley Cook, from Tennessee, for her amazing photo of an elk in the early morning fog with the mountains as a scenic backdrop, the epitome of a visit to the NC Smokies. Her first time seeing an elk was two years ago and she has been hooked ever since. “There’s nothing more chilling than listening to the bugle of a bull elk echoing off the mountains.”

People’s Choice: Mandy Quinzi

Bull elk bugling

The final category was People’s Choice. We opened the voting up to the public and had you pick who your favorite was. The winner of that category is Mandy Quinzi, from North Carolina, for her epic photo of a bull elk in the fog.

Honorable Mention: Roy Walter

Elk grazing at Cataloochee Valley by an old barn | Photo by Roy Walter

Honorable Mention for fantastic composition goes to Roy Walter taken at Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Honorable Mention: Brian Anderson

Honorable Mention for this strong side profile bull elk goes to Brian Anderson.


Top Finalist Photos were posted to our Facebook Page and have been linked here for you to view. Don’t forget to follow us on social to be informed of when the 2020 Photo Contest launches. Next year’s contest will feature separate categories and themes. Take advantage of the elk rut this year and start taking photos and planning out which ones you would like to submit for next year! Cataloochee Valley and the Blue Ridge Parkway are great places in Haywood County to see the elk as well as the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee. Make sure to follow Elk Viewing guidelines to stay safe and protect wildlife!

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