Cataloochee Valley is a peaceful, historical, and natural glimpse into rural mountain life in western North Carolina around the turn of the 20th century. Only a short drive from the towns of Maggie Valley and Waynesville in Haywood County, Cataloochee Valley is now a part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Travelers to this remote valley are greeted by bottomland fields alongside Cataloochee Creek and surrounded by tall mountain peaks reaching elevations between 5000' and 6000'. A scenic drive into the valley reveals five preserved structures representing the last community to reside here before the creation of the national park in the 1930's. Information about the valley and educational exhibits are available at Palmer House, one of these structures constructed in part in 1860.
One of the more popular activities in Cataloochee Valley has become elk and wildlife viewing. Visits to the valley in early morning or late evenings are ideal times to glimpse the park's many inhabitants such as deer, elk, and turkey. Elk were released into the park in 2001 following a 150 year absence. Starting with twenty-five and adding another twenty-seven the following year, the elk population has grown to around 140 in western North Carolina. While creating a photographic opportunity, keep in mind these are wild animals and should be viewed from a distance (150') for the safety of both you and the animals.
Cataloochee Valley offers multiple outdoor uses including camping, hiking, and fishing. Campers seeking tent, RV, backcountry, group, or horse camps are all accommodated within the valley. Hikers here can discover four additional structures from the last communities of Little Cataloochee. Multiple trails traverse the valley area with information available at the Backcountry Information Office at 865-436-1297. Fishing is permitted in the valley year-round from thirty minutes before official sunrise to thirty minutes after official sunset. Anglers must possess a valid fishing license or permit from North Carolina or Tennessee (both permitted throughout the park) and no trout stamp is required. Information on fishable waters, daily possession limits, size, equipment, bait, and lures can be found at all park visitor centers or ranger stations.
Cataloochee Valley is a great place to get away. Travelers may enjoy an easy drive through to look for elk and historical buildings while others may prefer to stay a while to experience the many natural offerings. The Cataloochee Valley is a recommended stop along your way as you travel western NC.