Catalooochee is a wonderful family-run, family-friendly place. The place is decidedly casual yet exceptionally warm and personal, causing a devote loyalty in its guests who return year after year. A father-daughter trio had been coming every year for fifteen years, a grandmother "steals" her grandchildren for a week every year (leading the staff to comment on the new color of the t-shirt she crafts for the occasion), and an elderly couple first came on their honeymoon. Pretty impressive. In fact, many of the folks may have been a little alarmed at us, a young couple- and we heard more than a few times that they're trying to strike a balance of keeping the place a secret and attracting new clientele. There's a lot to do on the ranch, including wonderful horse back rides that can be tailored to suit your needs- more advanced riders get to canter. People who have never been on a horse will be gently guided by Judy, who takes great pride in her animals. As she should- they were wonderfully gentle yet spunky enough to climb the mountain trails to provide us beautiful views. The same trails are available for hiking, and some lead to waterfalls. There's also a trout pond (stocked with fish), grassy lawns for lawn games (including horseshoes), and a swimming pool with a view to a butterfly garden and the mountains beyond. At night, there's a bonfire to relax around, while inside there might be storytelling or music. You could easily spend 4-5 days here. Nearby, there are also attractions like Smoky Mountain National Park, and I heard that the expedition led by the grandmother was headed to Dollywood over the border in Tennessee. Asheville and the Biltmore are also easy drives. Dinner and breakfast are included with the room, and are served either buffet or family-style. The food may not be gourmet, but it's good mountain comfort food and there's plenty of it. The jams are crafted on-site and are available at the gift shop to take home, as are other souvenirs. At the end of the day, it was a wonderful escape and a terrific value, and we wish we could have stayed longer. Couples may want to stay in a cabin or at the Silverbelle lodge (the patios are great for relaxing). The cabins are well-equipped for families and large groups. The rooms in the main guest house, where we stayed, were charming but the walls are a little thin. The main guest house feels more like a mountain escape experience while the rooms in the Silverbelle had more updated and modern bathrooms/showers. When we go back, we'll probably shoot for May or September for the flowers/fall colors- but the cool temps at that altitude were also a nice break from the summer heat.
- Also Known As:
- The Cataloochee Ranch Hotel Maggie Valley