The Road to Cataloochee

The Road to Cataloochee by Robby Edwards

April 2005
Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Rachelle, her parents and I decided to enjoy the some wonderful springtime weather one afternoon by driving out to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in search of elk. In 2001 and 2002, two separate herds of elk were relocated from Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area to Cataloochee in the western/North Carolina portion of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cataloochee is a relatively isolated portion of the national park, similar to the much more frequently visited Cades Cove in the eastern/Tennessee portion of the park.

The name Cataloochee is a corruption of the Cherokee name for the area, “Gadalutsi,” which means “standing up in a row,” and could refer either to the mountains which surround the valley, or the abundant trees which cover them. Cataloochee was comprised of two separate communities, Big Cataloochee and Little Cataloochee. We spent our time in Big Cataloochee.

Just after we entered the park, we pulled over at an overlook to take in the view. This photograph was taken from the end of the parking lot. I’ve always liked photos like this one, where the road disappears over a rise or around a bend. Makes me want to go down the road to see what lies just beyond. Which is exactly what we did, following the road down into the valley.