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See History and Wildlife in Cataloochee Valley

October 1, 2013 March 15th, 2020
Male and female elk in the Great Smoky Mountains.

The Smoky Mountains region is one of the most beautiful and celebrated areas in the world. In addition to the excellent white water rafting in Gatlinburg TN, Sevier County is home to the world-famous Great Smoky Mountains National Park. One of the highlights of the national park is Cataloochee Valley, a stunning plain with a fascinating history and diverse wildlife.

Historic Buildings

Cataloochee Valley used to be one of the largest settlements in the National Park with about 1,200 people living in the valley in 1910. The majority of residents were farmers, but some locals also took advantage of tourism in the area by providing lodging for fishermen and other visitors in the area. Today, you can still see a number of historic buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Visitors can tour a church, a school, a barn and several homes in Cataloochee Valley. You can find plenty of information about the history of the valley with an inexpensive self-guiding tour booklet available in a roadside box at the entrance to Cataloochee.

Wildlife Watching

Cataloochee Valley is also a great location for wildlife watching. In 2001, elk were reintroduced to the valley by a team of scientists. You will have a good chance of seeing a herd of elk during the early morning or evening. Other animals in the Cataloochee Valley include deer, turkey and black bears. The valley also features tributaries that are well known for their wild trout populations. Visitors need a Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license to cast their lines in the National Park.

After a relaxing day in Cataloochee Valley, you will be ready for an exhilarating ride down the Pigeon River. Smoky Mountain Outdoors offers the best white water rafting in Gatlinburg TN. With trips along both the Upper Pigeon and Lower Pigeon, guests at Smoky Mountain Outdoors can choose between ‘mild’ and ‘wild’ rafting rides. Visit our Packages page to learn about our Zipline & Whitewater Rafting Combo Ticket!