Cataloochee Valley Great Smokey Mountains National Park 001
The next day we drove into the Cataloochee Valley, located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is one of the most remote and least visited areas of the park. Access requires a two-hour drive along a twisting dirt road with hairpin turns, climbing over the ridgeline of the Balsam Mountains.
This was once a choice site for farmsteads and became the largest settlement in the Smokies. Only a few of the nearly 200 buildings that were here at the turn of the 20th century remain. The view from one of the barns now looks out on herds of elk instead of cattle.
After losing the last wild elk to overhunting in the 1800s, the park introduced elk to this area in 2001 and they have grown to a herd of more than a hundred.