We spent a few wonderful days camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, mostly in the remote Cataloochee Valley.
The dirt road leading over a mountain and then down to the Cataloochee Valley is pretty daunting, especially pulling a 21’ travel trailer. The road is only three miles long, but the average speed is 5 mph, so it’s a slow and nerve wracking drive.
The road has frequent bumps and deep potholes, stretches of washboard that will rattle bones, blind switchbacks, and steep drop-offs.
I think the difficulty in reaching the area and also the complete lack of amenities there keeps the crowds camping and visiting Cataloochee thin, but it’s definitely worth the slow and difficult drive over the mountain.
In the Cataloochee Valley, there are expansive grass fields where elk, bear, and turkey graze. There are miles of hiking and horse trails. There are miles of paved and gravel roads for cycling. There are also historic houses and buildings preserved in the valley.
Here are some of photos from our time there, and down below you can find some tips about camping in Cataloochee Valley in Smoky Mountain National Park.
Tips for Camping in Cataloochee Valley, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Good things to know when camping in Cataloochee Valley
The Cataloochee Valley is difficult to access, so be prepared for slow and tense driving along the winding dirt road that leads up and over a mountain to Cataloochee. During or just after a hard rain, the road is made much more difficult, so be cautious.
There is nothing for sale in Cataloochee Valley. Nothing. The closest stores are convenience stores on the highway about 30 minutes away from the campground.
Firewood is not for sale in Cataloochee Valley, but you can burn what you find on the ground.
Beside the campground there is a fast flowing stream with a pool for swimming in warmer months.
There is no electricity for campers or electric, water, sewer hookups for RVs.
There are no showers.
Cell phone service is really spotty. Do not depend on it.