Great Smoky Mountains National Park | CATALOOCHEE HORSE CAMP

Cataloochee Horse Campground at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Cataloochee Horse Campground at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

See the Cataloochee Region web page for an interactive location map.


GENERAL INFORMATION

The Cataloochee Horse Camp is located on the eastern side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The road leading to it from both the north and south is dirt, and it is rough, extremely narrow, and very windy. Because of this, 15 to 20 MPH is about all you can do (the 16 miles from Big Creek will take you an hour). Furthermore, the National Park Service does not recommend that RVs over 31 feet long or vehicles with trailers over 25 feet long use the road that leads to the campground.

The actual road that leads to the horse camp, Cataloochee Entrance Road, first passes the main Cataloochee Campground before coming to the gated road that leads to the horse camp. Those with reservations will get a code for unlocking the gate. If you want to walk in to check out the horse camp, it is .2 mile from the gate to the first campsites.

Cataloochee Campground Map (click to enlarge)

Cataloochee Campground Map (click to view of download PDF)

TYPE OF CAMPING

Cataloochee Horse Camp can accommodate both tent campers and RVs up to 31 feet in length.

CAMPING SEASON

The campground is typically open from April through the end of October. The exact opening and closing dates change each year, so be sure to visit the National Park Service’s Horse Camps web page for the latest schedule.

NUMBER OF SITES

Cataloochee Horse Camp is divided into two sections, with two campsites in the first section and five in the second. Each site can host up to six people and four horses. With the exception of Campsite 1, there is plenty of room for parking, and each site can easily fit two vehicles with horse trailers, or a vehicle with a trailer and a large RV. As mentioned, the only limit to size is what can safely be driven on the roads that lead to the campground. (Campsite 1 is on a knoll, and I couldn’t even figure out where you’d park other than on the opposite side of the road, and there isn’t that much room. Skip this site unless you are pulling a small horse trailer and intend to tent camp.)

Typical campsite at the Cataloochee Horse Camp

Typical campsite at the Cataloochee Horse Camp

All campsites have two picnic tables, a lantern post, and a grill / fire ring. Horses are kept at the campsite, and there is a metal, four-horse stall at each one (no roof).

Horse stalls are at each campsite at Cataloochee Horse Camp

Horse stalls are at each campsite at Cataloochee Horse Camp

I saw a large, concrete cistern near Campsite 1, but I didn’t check to see if there was any water in it, and I can only guess as to how fresh any water might be since it would be stagnate. You might want to bring water for your horses, or you can let them drink in the nearby Cataloochee Creek. There is no water at the campground for human consumption.

Water trough at Cataloochee Horse Camp

Water trough at Cataloochee Horse Camp

Cataloochee Creek

Cataloochee Creek

Though I didn’t notice one at Campsite 1, all sites are supposed to have a 16’ x 16’ tent pad on which to pitch your tent, tough I suspect most people using the campground are in RVs or some sort of self-contained sleeping vehicle.

There is a horse manure cart at each section of the campground.

Horse manure wagon at Cataloochee Horse Camp

Horse manure wagon at Cataloochee Horse Camp

AMENITIES

There is no electricity or potable water for humans at the Cataloochee Horse Camp, and no running water of any kind, which means no flush toilets or showers. Each loop has a “fancy outhouse,” which is what I call a pit toilet housed in a permanent building (vs. the plastic, portable toilets). You can use the flush toilets at the main campground, but this is certainly not convenient—especially after dark—due to the distance between the campgrounds.

Fancy outhouse as Cataloochee Horse Camp

Fancy outhouse as Cataloochee Horse Camp

There are private companies that offer fee-based shower facilities outside the park. The campground host at the main Cataloochee Campground told me that the closest one is Winngray Campground, which is located on Highway 276 near the Cataloochee ski area. This is about 14 miles away and takes 45 minutes (one way).

RESERVATIONS

Reservations are required for all campsites at Cataloochee Horse Camp and can be made up to six months in advance by calling (877) 444-6777 or visiting the online reservation service, Recreation.gov. It is not possible to pay at the campground, and you cannot make a reservation from here because there is no cell phone service. If you show up without a reservation, you must leave and find a place with phone service.

FEES

The current horse campsites are $23/night. Prices can always change. The most current rates are given on the Recreation.gov web pages.

CAMPGROUND RULES

• Check out time is noon. Check in is 1 PM.

• All food, including horse food, must be stored in food storage boxes (if provided) or in your vehicle.

• Stays within Great Smokey Mountains National Park are limited to 14 consecutive days at any one campground, and no more than 60 total camping days in a year. If you wish to camp more than 14 days at a particular campground, you must leave that campground for at least one day before returning. To do this, you can return home or simply switch to another campground for a day.

• Do not bring your own firewood to Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Firewood is available for sale inside the park and surrounding towns, but not at Cataloochee Horse Campground. You can also gather wood inside the park that is on the ground and dead.

• Pets are allowed as long as they stay on a leash no longer than six feet. However, no pets are allowed on the hiking trails, other than horses, and you cannot leave them unattended at your campsite.

• Alcohol is permitted in the campground as long as the people drinking are at least 21-years-old, which goes without saying.

• Quiet hours are in effect from 10 pm to 6 am. Generators are allowed from 8 AM to 8 PM.

• Hammocks are allowed in the campground with the following guidelines: Must be over the footprint of the campsite, limited to trees 10 inches in diameter with adequate padding around the tree and only 2 hammocks are allowed to be suspended from the same tree.

• The horse campground has additional rules. See the National Park Service’s Horse Camp web page for details.

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Last updated on February 13, 2021
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