Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Mountain Farm Museum
Step Back in Time
In a field behind the Oconaluftee Visitors Center and along the Oconaluftee River, the Park Service has recreated a late 19th century mountain farm with authentic log structures moved from their original locations throughout the National Park. One of the buildings, the John E. Davis farmhouse (shown), originally stood in the Indian Creek/Thomas Divide area north of Bryson City.
Other buildings include a barn, apple house, springhouse, and a working blacksmith shop. To get a sense of how families may have lived 100 years ago, the farm also demonstrates historic gardening and agricultural practices, including livestock. The Park has a 30-minute self-guided walking tour audio guide for rental that covers keeping bees, vegetable gardening, and aspects of social life in the mountains.
You might spot some elk in the fields at the visitor center. Mid-late afternoons are the best times.
The easy, 1.5 mile (one-way) Oconaluftee River Trail begins at the mountain farm. It is stroller-accessible, bike and pet-friendly and follows the river to Cherokee, N.C.
Watch this 9-minute video from the Great Smoky Mountains Association
The Park’s Elk Herd
For years following the herd’s 2001 reintroduction into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, elk watching meant driving deep into the Cataloochee area of the park, about 1.5 hours from Bryson City. But these days, you’re just as likely to see elk grazing in the fields next to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center or in the lowland fields along US 441 in the National Park or in the Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center just north of the visitor center. Mid to late afternoons are the best times.
The Fall Rut
Hearing a bull elk’s bugling during the fall rutting season is a memorable experience that comes with a caution. While the animals are not frightened by humans, they are wild and potentially dangerous, particularly during mating season when the males are aggressively guarding their harems. Observers should get no closer than 50 yards and use binoculars or telephoto lens for closer views.
Bryson City - Swain County
Chamber of Commerce
210 Main Street
P.O. Box 509
Bryson City, NC 28713
Karen Proctor Wilmot
Free 2018 Travel Guide to the Smokies — Includes the Official 2018 All Aboard for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
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