The three male elk are officially named Doc, Merle and Watson, monikers that recognize world-famous bluegrass icons and High Country natives Doc and Merle Watson. Now about 4 months old, each elk is nearly twice the size of an adult white-tailed deer.
The elk came from a private elk farm in central North Carolina and seem to be adjusting well to their new environment. The plan had been to transition the elk from a small shifting paddock to the main habitat, but when the elk arrived they were so calm and relaxed that staff quickly put them into the main habitat.
Visitors can see the elk for free with park admission. Grandfather Mountain is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day during the winter except for Christmas, with weather-related delays and closures also a possibility.