Cataloochee in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Cataloochee is located on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although it takes a little extra effort to get there, the rewards of visitation far outweigh the inconvenience of driving across the Cataloochee Divide on a narrow unpaved twisting access road.
As you work your way into the valley, the road suddenly transforms into a two-lane paved thoroughfare. The first should be the Cataloochee Overlook. From here you can see a vast area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Take a moment to reflect on the first pioneers that looked upon this rugged land and were determined to make this place their home,
Here you can visit the homes of three families that lived here at the time that the park was established. You can also visit a preserved church and a school that are maintained by the Park Service.
In addition, should you decide to hike into Little Cataloochee you can visit another church and two more residences.
There are also several cemeteries scattered throughout Cataloochee that are the final resting places of many of the former residents of this valley.
But the main attraction in Cataloochee these days are the herds of Elk that were reintroduced into the area earlier in the century and are now well established in the section of the park. Early in the morning and late in the evening are the best times for seeing elk but if you are lucky you can see them at other times during the day.
Always keep in mind the fact that the elk are wild animals and one should exercise caution when these large animals are present. Better to keep a safe distance that allows the elk to move about unmolested by human intervention.
There is a developed campground in Cataloochee but there are limitations on space and the size of RVs that can be accommodated. More information about camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Catlaloochee is one of my personal favorite places to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains. I highly recommend it!