There are few things that are more worthy of exploration than the beautiful national parks around the United States. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established in 1926, and almost 100 years later, it’s the most visited in the national parks system.
One of the special places within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Cataloochee Valley, nestled among some of the most rugged mountains in the southeastern United States. Home to one of North Carolina’s elk herds and surrounded by 6000-foot peaks, this isolated valley was one of the largest and most prosperous settlements in this national park.
Some 1,200 people lived in this lovely mountain valley in 1910. Most made their living by farming, but an early tourism industry developed in Cataloochee, with some families boarding fishermen and other tourists who wished to vacation in the mountains.
Their homes, barns, and churches can still be found here today. Palmer Chapel Methodist Church was built in 1898. Its simple beauty is serene, a place made for reflection and meditation, and like many of the buildings here in Cataloochee, it’s fully accessible.
Walking through these historic structures is both quiet and exciting. There’s the Beech Grove School, the beautiful Caldwell House, and several more buildings to explore. And the historic man-made beauty found here settles right into the majestic mountain wilderness.
Living in the South means that, even in the middle of winter, getting out into nature is downright comfortable. Even on a cool, crisp day, a few layers and a brisk walk in the woods keep you plenty warm as you take in this gorgeous, mountainous setting.
Part of the appeal of Cataloochee is that it’s a world away. Make sure to bring plenty of snacks and water from Ingles Markets and be a good visitor by leaving no trace that you were there. National parks are one of our greatest treasures as a country, and they belong to all of us, so make sure to experience as many of them as you can.
You can learn more and plan your visit to Cataloochee at NPS.gov. You won’t regret putting your feet on a trail and exploring the beauty of the surrounding nature. Your weekend is waiting on the Ingles Open Road.
To learn more about Ingles Markets, visit their website at ingles-markets.com.