Located near the Southeastern section of the park, Cataloochee Valley was once the biggest and most prosperous community in the area that now comprises the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In the early years of the 1900’s there were roughly 1,200 residents and around 200 buildings scattered throughout the valley.
The name Cataloochee is derived from the Cherokee word, “Gadalutsi,” which means “standing up in a row” or “wave after wave.”
At 2,600 feet, the remote valley is surrounded by giant, rugged mountain peaks and is best known today as the location of the elk herds that began being re-introduced to the area in 2001.
Cataloochee Valley once belonged to Colonel Robert Love, a land speculator in the post-Revolutionary War years who granted homesteads to persons who would settle and improve the land.
The earliest known settlers in Cataloochee Valley was the Caldwell family in 1814. Others soon followed and by the mid 1800’s Cataloochee was well-populated. Many of the area’s earliest settlers are buried in the various small cemeteries found in the valley today.
In addition to being home to several preserved historic structures, Cataloochee is a prime location for hiking, fishing, horseback riding and wildlife viewing. It is often described as Cades Cove without the crowds. A 27-space, primitive campground is also open from mid-March through October.
Directions to Cataloochee: Cataloochee Valley is 65 miles from Gatlinburg and 39 miles from Cherokee, NC. From interstate I-40, exit at North Carolina exit #20 and travel 0.2 miles on route 276. Turn right onto Cove Creek Road and follow the signs 11 miles into the Cataloochee Valley.