September 30 - October 1, 2022
This festival in Maggie Valley celebrates the local elk herds in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Celebrate our great outdoors and learn about our wildlife and natural diversity.
The outdoor festival is held at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds (3374 Soco Road) 10 AM-6 PM with plenty of crafts, live music, outdoor excursions, wildlife art, and educational activities by the national park and conservation groups. The music lineup features classic and fresh country music artists as well as beloved local bands with cultural performances by the Cherokee Indian Reservation and others. Start practicing for the Elk Bugling Contest or enter the photo contest!
Elk Fest coincides with the fall rut when the male elk compete to mate with females. To see the elk, travel to nearby Cataloochee Valley or the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (more info below). During the rut, the male elk clash with their antlers and bugles. The festival will include special hikes and tours. There will not be any live elk at the festival unless some venture down from the hills to visit.
The elk were reintroduced in 2001 to the Great Smoky Mountains after 300 years of absence. The herd has grown to several hundred. They are now commonly seen in the early morning and late evening in several areas in and near the national park. You can watch the elk year-round safely from your car. While these elk are accustomed to people and appear tame, they are not. Do not approach them. They are wild animals and can cause serious injury. See our guides for Elk in Cataloochee Valley and Elk in Cherokee at Oconaluftee Visitor Center.
Admission is $5/person (kids 12 & under are free). Elk Fest proceeds help sustain the growing population of elk in the area. Funds support habitat maintenance and create other ways to keep the elk protected and happy.
The Maggie Valley Festival Grounds along US Highway 19 (3374 Soco Road, Maggie Valley) is about 30 miles west of Asheville and 9 miles from downtown Waynesville. Lake Junaluska is 6 miles east and Cherokee is 17 miles west. For more things to do nearby, see our Maggie Valley Guide.
Go to the Elk Fest Website for many more details.