Cataloochee, Pigeon Forge, and Cades Cove

October 25, 2013

Thursday morning dawned cold and cloudy with a low of 35… we decided to pack a picnic and head out to Cataloochee to see the elk. We drove via I-40, exiting on Cove Creek Road (gravel) to the park. The colors of the foliage seemed to be near peak on surrounding mountains. We stopped by a short trail to an overlook and the colors were gorgeous!

We made it into the valley and finally found a herd of cow elks, far off by the trees. The zoom on my new camera just wasn’t up to the job! Signs were posted prohibiting parking on the fields so we wouldn’t disturb the elk during the rutting season. We found a place to park where we had a view of the elk and had our picnic in the truck (it was low 40s and windy out). On our way out of Cataloochee, we saw a few bull elks with large racks of antlers. No bugling or rutting… I think we were too late in the season for that!

There are a few historic buildings in Cataloochee… a school, church and a few homes and cabins. We stopped at the Caldwell place, a large home. The footbridge over a stream in front of the house was filled with sunken fall leaves… And, we drove back home the long way, over 17 miles of gravel road through the colorful woods and along twisty, curvy, Highway 32. Today remained cold, with a high of 49.

Friday, we decided to go to Cades Cove and drive the loop road before the weekend when the park is full of leaf peepers and those looking for wildlife. The low was 34 and 42 degrees when we left the RV. We headed to Pigeon Forge to eat out and drove by the miracle mile of entertainment and restaurants.

We headed over to Wears Valley on Hwy 321 and took Hwy 73 to Laurel Creek Road to the Cove. Traffic was moving well when we entered the loop at a steady 13 mph. At this rate, it will take 1 to 2 hours to go around the loop without stopping and enjoying the scenery or visiting the historic buildings.

We stopped by the Visitor Center for a park stamp and Holly braved the long line at the rest room… it’s been a bad back day so we didn’t walk around the area by the visitor center where there are lots of historic buildings. Another visit…

About Holly Ritger

I am retired, enjoying being a grandmother, traveling to National Parks and other interesting places in our RV with my husband of 43 years, and visiting with friends and family. Hobbies: photography, learning about wildflowers and birds, and trees, and reading from my kindle.
This entry was posted in Fall, Great Smoky Mtn NP, Historical Buildings, History, Scenic Byway, Tennessee and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Cataloochee, Pigeon Forge, and Cades Cove

  1. So glad you are having such a great anniversary trip! Your pictures really capture the fall colors beautifully! I love the elk pictures. We’ve never been lucky enough to see elk in Great Smokey Mountain National Park. I don’t think we’ve ever been in the Catalooche area of the park, either. We’ve visited the park from the Cherokee side in North Carolina and from Sevierville in Tennessee where we drove the Cade’s Cove loop a few years ago.


  2. Holly Ritger says:

    Thanks Beth. One is almost guaranteed to see elk in Cataloochee, and we have seen them at Balsam Mountain on other trips. Balsam Mtn and several other parts of the park remain closed right now due to sequestration… We have been coming to the Smokies once or twice a year for many years now.

    We are thinking of moving camp to the Cherokee side to see other areas of the park. We are looking for campsites. Where have you stayed?


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