So much to see. It’s easy to spend a couple of days exploring the historical sites, walking trails, watching the elk herd (especially during the fall rut period) and admiring the natural beauty of the Great Smokey Mountains with less than the usual crowds. This is because access to the campground requires a challenging drive down a one lane dirt road. Believe me, you don’t want to try this in wet conditions.
But the trip is well worth the challenge. The campsite is a loop in the pines along a creek. It’s a 15 minute walk to the pastures where you can see the elk herd in the early morning or at dusk. Get up before dawn to watch the sun rise over the mountain and streak across the meadow.
After a steep, curvy road of about 10 miles from a main road, you will get to this campsite. The good thing about it is that you really feel as if you are experiencing nature at its finest. The bad thing is that you will be far from the nearest town or store. The road is single lane access at times, but the drive is WELL WORTH IT. Early in the morning or late in the afternoon, you can drive about a mile, and sometimes less, to see elk and lots of them. There are few amenities--no access to electricity, no on-site water, no showers, etc., but the sites are large enough that you don't feel crammed in. As far as the amenities, if you are prepared, water and electricity is not a huge factor. If you like hiking, there are miles of hiking trails, especially since this campground is located in a national park. There are also several historic structures in the area--a school, a church, barns, old houses, etc.
This is an unbelievable area! We took our small camper and stayed during the Elk Rut and it was incredible! Our dog came too and we were able to hike and get some great pictures of elk in the valley!
This campground was amazing. They do not have showers, but do have a bathhouse with water toilets and sinks. We camped near the creek and it was beautiful. Also viewing the elk is an experience I will never forget. There was hardly anyone there when we went. The camp hosts were friendly and knowledgeable about the area. Somewhat difficult to get to with the dirt roads but not that bad. It was well worth it.
We had s great night atvtge campground! The volunteer, Buck, was so wonderful and helpful! We will for sure be back!
Loved this campground. Not very big and nicely spaced. You can easily walk to trails and animal viewing. I would recommend this to everyone. Try to get a spot that backs up to the creek if you enjoy the sounds of water. Nice facilities as well.
This site is so peaceful and gorgeous. The wildlife is all around you and they aren't scared to interact, though you shouldn't encourage them. Cataloochee in itself is a very fun place to visit. My 4th great grandparents are buried in the Hannah cemetery here, as well as a Hannah cabin is on site. The campsite is rustic so there are no showers, and the bathrooms are "upgraded" outhouses. Best idea would be to go in the woods because the smell is unbearable. There are a few sites you can get right on the river, and it is fun exploring through the woods where you can discover the foundations of houses that once were. The elk are a beautiful site to behold in the early mornings. Be careful out there though, a black bear walked through our site while we were fixing dinner. Didn't bother us, but it was a nice little scare.
I think you need to check out both parts of the park. The Tennessee and NC sides each have great things to offer. Just feel that the NC side has more smaller campgrounds and is generally a little more quiet and laid back. Go NC!
Not the biggest fan of the Gatlinburg/Tennesse part of the park. The North Carolina part has a slightly different feel. Less of a circus and less crowded and more laid back. Loving it! Beautiful. Just wish there were showers here….lol.