I live with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in my backyard so to speak. Approximately 20 miles from my door is one of the park entrances. The park, while headquartered in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, straddles the North Carolina-Tennessee border.
While I have hiked a bit in the park, my favorite thing to do is head to Cataloochee Valley to see the elk. Elk were re-introduced to the area starting around 2000. There is quite a herd in the Cataloochee Valley nowadays and I have only been out to that area once and failed to see at least one elk.
While spring calving time is a good time to go see the elk, rutting season in the fall is also a popular time. People will drive out to Cataloochee Valley and set up as if tailgating at a football game. And, then they sit and wait for the elk to come into the pasture. I have never sat and waited to see the elk. If they are in the pastures and fields, I will stop and look at them but I will not wait for them. I would rather be hiking the area.
Have you ever been to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Did you go hiking? See elk? Something else?