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Great Smoky Mountains, Parks

Elk in the Great Smoky Mountains

Black bears get most of the attention in the Great Smoky Mountains, elk are also a majestic site that can be found in the region.

If you see an elk in the Great Smoky Mountains, consider yourself lucky. These nearly-eliminated species can be a rare find.

Elk once roamed the Appalachian mountains, but were eliminated from the region from over-hunting and loss of habitat in the 1700s-1800s.

The NPS reintroduced elk into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as recently as 2001 and then again in 2002.

A total of 52 elk were released in the park. Cows (female elk) usually give birth to only one calf per year.

Elks like to bugle. According to the NPS, they do this to advertise to the females and intimidate other males.

Elk do have antlers, and male elk (bulls) often use them to spar with other bulls.

Deer on left, Elk on right

In the spring, elk shed their antlers, which are then eaten by small animals, according to the NPS.

It is illegal to remove antlers from the national park.

Elk are most active during cooler parts of the day, in the early morning or late evening.

Mating season, which is known as “rut”, begins in the fall, which is when male elk make their bugling calls.

Elk on left, moose on right

Elk are most commonly spotted along Cataloochee Valley on the North Carolina side of the mountains.

Remember, it is illegal to approach an elk within 150 feet or any distance that disturbs the elk.

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Amusement, Attractions, Shopping

Smoky Mountain Knife Works

While knives are the main feature in this store, visitors will also find dinosaur bones and meteorites.  

SMOKY MOUNTAIN KNIFE WORKS IS heralded as the “World’s largest knife showplace.” The showroom covers more than 100,000 square feet and has more than a million visitors annually.

The store is home to a massive collection of museum-quality cutlery memorabilia, artifacts, and mounts—as well as a plethora of knives and outdoor equipment.

Inside, visitors will also find the Smoky Mountain Relic Room, a room filled with an extensive collection of fossils, gems, minerals, artifacts, and meteorites. Visitors will also find dinosaur bones and early tools. Many of the artifacts in this room are also for sale. 

Great Smoky Mountains, Hiking, History, Parks

Why do they call them the Smoky Mountains

The Cherokee called the mountains Shaconage – place of the blue smoke.

The rising mists are produced by the forest itself.

Water is pulled from the soil up into the plants and trees and eventually rises from the leaves, evaporating into the air.

The water cools and forms the blue-tinged mists you see rising over the mountains, eventually forming clouds and falling back to the earth to repeat the cycle.

The mountains, in many ways, retain the charms that made them attractive to the National Park Service.

Attractions, Food

Wears Valley Food Trucks

Food truck park opens by Sevierville Friday, Wears Valley Social

https://wears-valley-social-food-truck-park.business.site/

Want to experience the best of Sevierville culture all in one spot? Then, you definitely need to plan a trip to the Wears Valley Social. One part food truck park, another part arts and crafts fair, this innovative space lets you join your friends, family, and neighbors for a great time. The food trucks and craft vendors rotate out on the regular, so be sure to visit often to experience all it has to offer.  

Great Smoky Mountains, Hiking, Parks, Staying Active

Look Rock Tower Trail

Look Rock Tower Trail is a paved Smoky Mountain hiking trail you won’t want to miss. This trail is considered easy and is 0.8 miles roundtrip. The path is steep on this trail too. It is located off of Foothills Parkway near Maryville, Tennessee. There is an ADA friendly picnic area at Look Rock where you can enjoy a picnic lunch and spend some time with family and friends outdoors. This trail is not tagged as wheelchair or stroller friendly because although the trail surface is paved asphalt and it is typically at least four feet wide, it is moderately steep most of the way and very steep (over 12%) in areas. At the end of this trail is a beautiful view of the mountains. Pets are not allowed on this trail.

Look Rock Trail Observation Tower