The Elk of Cataloochee
Located in the remote Southeast corner of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the Cataloochee Valley. And since the National Park Service reintroduced elk into the valley in 2001, wildlife lovers from all over the world have crossed the Cataloochee Divide to see the beautiful creatures!
It’s And it’s not just the sight of the elk that will take your breath away. The bugling of a bull elk is a sound that you will never forget, and can be heard for miles!
If you visit the valley, always keep in mind that the elk are very large and strong wild animals. Do not approach, molest, or interfere with elk movement and activities. Although the elk are equipped with radio transmitters to monitor their movement, they are not tame. Always exercise extreme caution and keep a safe distance away.
Although there is no lodging, the Cataloochee Campground is a great to stay for an extended visit, and there are several backcountry campsites as well. Reservations are necessary as the camps can fill up quickly!
While you are in Cataloochee you may enjoy visiting some of the historic structures, including two churches, houses and cabins, and farm buildings. Unlike Cades Cove during high traffic times, you can move around the Cataloochee Valley freely.
There are also many good hiking trails in Cataloochee. The Boogerman Loop is very popular due to the old growth trees that were spared the lumberman’s ax. My personal favorite is the Little Cataloochee Trail which has plenty on interesting things to see along the way.
But the Elk are still the biggest visitor draw in this valley. Especially early in the morning or in the waning hours of the evening when these beasts usually appear in great numbers. But be forewarned – these are wild animals and not show ponies. They come and go at their leisure and not for the convenience of spectators.
Seeing the elk of Cataloochee for yourself is an experience that you will never forget!