Banner Elk is near Most Visited National Park in the United States
The Great Smokey Mountains National Park has long been the most visited park in the America, according to the National Park Service; receiving more visitors than Yellowstone, Yosemite or Grand Canyon. And, The park is just a few hours from Banner Elk and Banner Haven Bed and Breakfast.
About 2 Hours west of Banner Haven, a beautiful drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway, you enter Great Smokey Mountains National Park where Elk have been reintroduced.
Banner Elk received its name from the Banner Family and the elk that inhabited the area over 150 years ago. The valley was known for a large elk population, which was hunted to complete extinction. The National Park Service has begun bringing these beautiful creatures back the the High Country.
Elk once roamed the southern Appalachian mountains and elsewhere in the eastern United States. They were eliminated from the region by over-hunting and loss of habitat. The last elk in North Carolina was believed to have been killed in the late 1700s. In Tennessee, the last elk was killed in the mid-1800s. By 1900, the population of elk in North America dropped to the point that hunting groups and other conservation organizations became concerned the species was headed for extinction.
A primary mission of the National Park Service is to preserve native plants and animals on lands it manages. In cases where native species have been eliminated from park lands, the National Park Service may choose to reintroduce them. Reintroduction of elk into Great Smoky Mountains National Park began in 2001 when 25 elk were brought from the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area along the Tennessee-Kentucky border. In 2002, the park imported another 27 animals.
In 2001, elk were released in Cataloochee Valley as part of an experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park. The herd can be seen regularly in the fields of the valley, especially in the early morning and evening hours. Visitors to Cataloochee also enjoy viewing deer, elk, turkey, and other wildlife. Wildlife watching can be especially fruitful during mornings and evenings in the valley’s open fields.
Today, it’s estimated that more than 1200 elk now call Western NC home. That number is expected to increase as the herds breed.
Elk may return to the Banner Elk area of the High Country and Grandfather Mountain is sure to be a spot where they will be found, with the large secluded terrain and few people.
Warning! Elk are large animals–larger than black bears–and can be dangerous. Female elk with calves have charged people in defense of their offspring. Males (bulls) may perceive people as challengers to their domain and charge. The best way to avoid these hazards is to keep your distance.
Never touch or move elk calves. Though they may appear to be orphaned, chances are their mother is nearby. Cows frequently leave their newborn calves while they go off to feed. A calf’s natural defense is to lie down and remain still. The same is true for white-tailed deer fawns.
Stay tuned and bookmark our website to keep up to date.
Greg and Amy Gardner
Banner Haven Bed & Breakfast
509 Beech Mountain Parkway
Banner Elk, NC 28604
Inn – 828-783-8085
Cell – 980-329-8101
Easy to reach from Charlotte, Raleigh, Virginia and Eastern Tennessee; Banner Haven and the High Country have something for everyone. Whether it’s winter skiing or summer whitewater rafting, the area attracts visitors for every season, Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. Plan your next vacation in the NC High Country and visit an area Bed and Breakfast for a fantastic experience.