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“Wonderfull area” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Cataloochee Campground

Cataloochee Campground
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Cataloochee Campground
Waynesville, NC 28786, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC   |  
Hotel amenities
Dallas, Texas
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
65 helpful votes 65 helpful votes
“Wonderfull area”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2013

It’s not really fair to rate this campground with the little Cataloochie valley, the campground is really only average with moderately spaced level sites, vary shaded and the river runs right behind your site on one side. No dump station or facilities at all except one rest room. Now the rest of the cataloochie is amazing, Elk, Bear, historic attractions that can keep you busy for a couple days and it is well worth the trip up the one lane dirt road (if you can call it that) to see this valley. One of my favorite places in the park. Better bring everything you need (ice, firewood etc) cause there is nothing for miles around. Not big rig friendls, you'll never make it up the road.

Stayed May 2013, traveled with family
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15 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (4)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Raleigh, North Carolina
Top Contributor
169 reviews 169 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 100 cities Reviews in 100 cities
248 helpful votes 248 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 1, 2012

There are three group campsites at Cataloochee, each which camp accommodate up to 25 people. Since the three sites are very close together, we rented all three for our annual fall foliage trip and there was plenty of room for about 60 of us. The group sites have limited amenities - vault toilets (fairly nice and clean for vault toilets), tent pads (all tents must be on the pads), picnic tables, bear-proof garbage containers, and fire rings. There is no potable water, but there is a creek nearby to filter water or its a short drive to the individual campsites to get water. But the site is in a great location, nestled in Cataloochee Valley, just up the road from Palmer House. This area is home to elk and they're pretty common around the area, especially in the fall during mating season. Sometimes you can hear the elk bugling in the evenings. There are also several old historic buildings in the valley. And since its possible to book all three sites, you can have a pretty large group altogether and not have to worry about being reasonably noisy since there's nothing else around.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Asheville, North Carolina
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed October 7, 2012

Cataloochee campground is a lovely, small, peaceful campground. Some sites are a little close together -- we were on #23 and the #6 site, which butts up against it, was almost too close for comfort. Their fire ring was closer to our tent pad than ours was. Most sites had a little more space between them, however. Seeing the elk is a big highlight of staying here, but there are also numerous walks/hikes and the history of the area is enjoyable. The camp host was the nicest guy ever.

The only negative is that for a 27-site campground there is one bathroom (for each gender) with only two stalls. This wouldn't be that big a deal, but by the weekend the bathrooms were absolutely overrun with visitors there to see the elk who were not staying at the campground. This was an all day and into the evening frustration, for the women's restroom in particular. There was a constant line of people and usually about 3+ cars parked all around the bathrooms -- at one point a minivan almost plowed into my mother as it was racing to get to the spot by the women's restroom. There are simply not enough facilities for campers AND people just there for the day. There are two other pit toilets throughout the park, but either the day visitors weren't aware of them or preferred using this restroom. It's frustrating to pay $20 a day to camp and have to dodge cars crammed around the restrooms and have to fight to use them all weekend long. The park really needs to address this and have a separate full restroom for non-campers.

Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Piedmont, South Carolina
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 20, 2012

The area is very peaceful, quiet and convenient to the historical sites and self-guided tours areas. The lanscape around the area is absolutely gorgeous and the rates for staying there are very affordable and well worth both the price and the trip. A great place overall, but there were no showers available, which is to be expected when camping. If you're OK with spongebaths, being so close to wildlife and looking for a place where you can relax and enjoy the outdoors, this is the place I'd recommend. It's also about as "family-friendly" as they come.

Room Tip: You have to bring your own tent or RV-- it's all self-done.
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johnson City, TN
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 5, 2012

We camped here when temps were 100+ in surrounding areas, but it was cool and pleasant here. It was even a bit chilly at night. The campground is small (27 sites), so it gets quiet at bed-time. The campground host was friendly and helpful with a car problem I experienced while there, as was the park ranger. The creek nearby makes for wonderful sleeping, and the elk just down the road are a blast to watch. We will be back!

Room Tip: Try to get a campsite next to the creek, if possible.
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 28, 2012

We camped at the campground in Cataloochee and enjoyed hiking, fishing and seeing the elk. There are trails for all different skill levels. These are mountain trails so expect a lot of ups and downs. Dogs (even on leash) are not allowed on many of the trails because the Park folks are trying to reestablish trees and shrubbery to some of the areas. Check before you head out with your pooch to make sure the trail you are planning allows him to come along.
The elk are majestic and seeing them up close like this is a real treat. One cow-elk came right to the campground. She just walked right through, posing for pictures along the way.
The staff are so very helpful and friendly. (Who wouldn't be, living there?! :)

There are no showers, as with many National Parks. There are clean, nice bathhouses, though. You can camp alongside a rush creek on one side of the campground or by a gentle stream on the other side of the campground. We chose the stream side since we had little children with us. Great loop for bikes. So relaxing to be by the stream and snuggle up with a good book. Bring a blanket, even in summer, as the temps in the mountains tend to drop at night.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nashville, TN
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2012

The Cataloochee Campground is one of the less well-known camping sites, but it is the best in the park in my opinion. To get to it, there is a winding road that will take you about half an hour to traverse from the interstate. It is NOT for the faint of heart as it is full of blind switchbacks. It is much easier to do in the daytime than at night. It is also very difficult to bring an RV on it. I would definitely only recommend it for people bringing cars.

Also, you need to make an online reservation, because the campsite fills up quickly! There are only about 20 spots. The people are generally older folks, and are extremely friendly. I've been given firewood when I need it, and the rangers have let me charge my cell phone when it died.

The spots are beautiful, especially if you can get one near the creek.

There are also wonderful historical sites to visit, including a chapel, a one-room schoolhouse, and a former private residence. It provides opportunities to learn about the culture and history of the area.

I particularly love seeing the elk. Elk were re-introduced to the Smoky Mountains in 2001, and there have been strong efforts to maintain a population. If you get up around dawn or dusk, you are likely to see elk not in the campground, but in a meadow/field that is 1-2 miles away. The campground ranger can easily direct you to it. The elk are absolutely magnificent. Seeing the elk are an absolute must for any wildlife lover. Because they elk are so protected, they have in many ways lost their fear of people, and so there is nearly a 100% chance you will see them if you go at the right time (unlike deer, which are easily spooked). The rangers are friendly and will provide you with a lot of information about the elk if you are interested in learning about diet, habitat, mating, etc. of the elk.

Room Tip: Pick a campground in the back of the site away from the road, and near the creek.
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Cataloochee Campground

Address: Waynesville, NC 28786, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC
Location: United States > North Carolina > Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty lodging in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Also Known As:
Cataloochee Campground Hotel Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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