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“We Were Disappointed in Cataloochee!”
Review of Cataloochee Valley

Cataloochee Valley
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed June 11, 2013

For years, we have heard the Cataloochee section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park hyped regarding its wildlife. For years, we have wanted to go, but it is about 2-1/2 hours from Pigeon Forge, where we usually stay. This time, we planned for it, and went. We had read that the road was gravel and narrow, but we did not realize how steep or high on the mountain that you had to drive to get there. In fact, you have to drive up one side on narrow, winding road, and then, down the other side with the same conditions. Another thing that no one seems to mention are the sheer and steep drops if you should miscalculate and slip off the edge. Nor do they mention that many of the drivers on this narrow road drive too fast and round the sharp curves to meet you face on. It is quite disconcerting. And this from a man who grew up navigating narrow, winding roads in my native Eastern Kentucky. Once we finally got to the bottom, after about a forty to forty-five minute drive, we were expecting fields of wild elk and sightings of many black bears. We saw neither. We did get to see two wild elk grazing along the road as we descended into the valley, which was a thrill for us. However, once down, we saw no more elk, and no black bears. We saw a couple of wild turkeys, and a cluster of pretty butterflies on the ground, but that was it. It definitely was NOT worth the dangerous and long, nail-biting drive for us. We won't be going back. There was camping at a campground in the valley, or cove, as it is known in the mountains. Perhaps, if camping is your passion, and you spend a week there, maybe you will see the wildlife. We did meet a family that told us that they saw about 27 elk in the fields last year, and had expected to see the same this year. They were also disappointed.

Thank Bernie P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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238 - 242 of 286 reviews

Reviewed June 9, 2013

We had so much fun at Cataloochee Valley!!! It is very secluded, but well worth the trip! We went everyday that we were staying in Maggie Valley, NC. We were lucky enough to see Elk and plenty of wild turkeys. The rangers are very informative and eager to talk to visitors. We even had Elk walk across the road right in front of our vehicle every day that we went!

Thank LeslieShue
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 4, 2013

We drove the road from Cosby down to Cataloochee. The first six miles or so from Cosby are paved, then they turn to gravel for about twenty miles. It is a beautiful drive, but you need to know that the roads are twisty turny and that you will be going very, very slowly. This is a part of the charm of that road. We did see turkeys and just beautiful trees. Apparently Cataloochee is an Indian word meaning "ranks of trees," which is aptly named. We got to Cataloochee at about 3:00 and were delighted to see several elk lounging around by the buildings. We took Cove Creek Road south from here and before you know it, we were in Asheville. I loved the quieter side of the Smokies from this easternmost portion. We're glad we took this road.

1  Thank William M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 25, 2013

My wife & I visited the Cataloochee Valley in May 2013. From Gatlinburg, we chose to take I-40 East to exit 20 in NC, then Cove Creek Road to Cataloochee Valley. The mountains and terrain are beautiful, but there is a dirt/gravel section of this road that climbs Cataloochee Divide. This road has many switchbacks and blind curves with no guardrails in this section-take it slow and be careful. We traveled in a Toyota Corolla and had no problems. Soon after entering the GSMNP, the road reverts back to pavement and is a much easier drive. Once in the valley, we saw several turkeys in the fields and lots of butterflies, but no elk. I would recommend visiting either early AM or late afternoon before sunset, not the mid-AM as we did. It is probably better to visit in the fall or early spring for better elk-viewing opportunities. I would rate this visit higher had we better timed it and seen the elk.

2  Thank Britt W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 9, 2013

Ya the roads in is twisted and slow. But it's worth the drive to see the elk and hike on trails that aren't full of tourist. Very secluded usually small group of cars not crowded like gatlinburg area. Walk on trail and pass elk not 20 feet from you. Old houses and church building along the trails. Great day away from the crowds. Best time to see elk is after five pm.

2  Thank scott g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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