It's a strange irony that one of the most beautiful areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also one of the least visited. Although it's a bit out of the way, The Cataloochee Valley rewards visitors with excellent vistas, historic buildings, and abundant wildlife.
Located entirely in the state of North Carolina, settlers came to this place in the early 19th Century for its seclusion and fertile bottom lands. Many lived their entire lives without ever crossing the divide for a glimpse of the outside world.
Since the inception of the Park in the late 1930's, much of the area was left to return to its natural state. Only a limited number of historic structures remain, including two churches and a few houses and cabins. It takes several days to explore the entire valley so you might want to stay in the Cataloochee Campground for the complete Smoky Mountain experience!
Photos from top cpurtesy of SmokyPhotos:
Palmer Chapel and Ground, Caldwell Barn with footlog, Base of the Cataloochee Overlook, Bull Elk
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