In the coming weeks, Swag guests have a couple of great opportunities to view the Elk down in the Cataloochee Valley of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The first of these comes on Thursday, September 29, at 5 p.m. for a special, guided viewing of the elk with Friends of the Smokies. Space is limited, so Swaggers will need to respond by September 22 by emailing The Swag office at Stay@TheSwag.com. Unable to make the tour on the 29th? Not to worry. The Swag has added a special amenity lasting through the month of October. In partnership with Cataloochee Valley Tours, The Swag now offers tickets for Eco-Tours. The evening eco-tour consists of round-trip transport into Cataloochee Valley, a short hike, elk and other wildlife viewing, refreshments and a mountain sunset. The tour lasts approximately four hours.
The experimental release of elk into Great Smoky Mountains National Park began in February 2001. Each fall, during the breeding season, known as “rut,” male elk make their legendary bugling calls to challenge other bulls and attract cows. Their calls may be heard a mile or more away. Large bulls use their antlers to intimidate and spar with other males. Most encounters are ritualistic and involve little physical contact; only occasionally do conflicts result in serious injuries to one or more combatants. During the rut in September and early October, dominant bulls gather and breed with harems of up to 20 cows.
The Cataloochee Valley is 17 miles from The Swag, about a 45-minute drive from the Swag House, or for the adventurous, a seven- mile one-way hike. More information about the elk in the Smokies can be found on the park’s website.