The picturesque Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park gives a sense of what life was like for pioneers in the North Carolina mountains. Even the name Cataloochee, derived from a Cherokee phrase meaning “wave upon wave of mountains,” bespeaks of life in a more primeval time.
Early Settlement in the Great Smokies
Surrounded by rugged 6,000-foot mountain peaks, the isolated Cataloochee Valley was first settled in the 1830s and for a time supported a prosperous community of 1,200 residents. Today, remnants of that early settlement can be seen in several preserved buildings, including houses, barns, a schoolhouse and a church.
Return of the Elk
Cataloochee Valley is rich in wildlife. Elk, which were hunted to local extinction in North Carolina in the 1700’s, were reintroduced to the area by the National Park Service in 2001. They can be seen in the early morning and late evening quietly grazing in meadows and by the roadside.
The Cataloochee Valley Campground, a developed campground operated by the National Park Service, offers 27 sites at an elevation of 2,600 feet.
Hours of Operation
The Park is open year-round. The Campground is open from the middle of March through October.
There is no fee for admission to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Hours of operation and fees are subject to change. Contact directly for most current information.
Cataloochee Valley is located in the southeast corner of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
From I-40, take exit 20 onto US 276. Follow US 276 north 0.2 miles and take a right on Cove Creek Road. The narrow, winding gravel road leads to the Park entrance (at 5.8 miles) and then to the Cataloochee Valley.