Located near the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park lies one of its most iconic attractions, Clingmans Dome. This scenic spot takes visitors on a 1/2 mile trek up to the summit. At the top, guests find an observation tower which provides 360° views of the surrounding area. It also happens to be the highest point in the National Park.
The observation tower at Clingmans Dome was opened in 1959 with its 375 foot long ramp leading to the top. It was built in honor of the National Park system turning 50 years old in 1966.
Clingmans Dome’s highest point is at an elevation of 6,643 feet. It is also the highest point in Tennessee and the highest point along the Appalachian Trail. Furthermore, it is the third highest point on the eastern side of the Mississippi River.
From the top of Clingmans Dome, visitors can see up to 100 miles around. Spanning into North Carolina and Tennessee. Although, because of the weather and pollution, most of the time visibility is limited to 20 miles.
Clingmans Dome is accessible from US 441. Turn onto Clingmans Dome Road and follow for about 7 miles. The road will end into the parking lot next to the visitor center. There are pit toilets at the top. Also, the visitors center gift shop offers maps, clothing, snacks, ponchos and other essentials.
Visitors should check the weather before attempting to visit Clingmans Dome. Weather atop of the mountain can be different then the weather in lower regions. Also, the temperature does drop between 10-20° on top of the mountain. It is recommended that people dress in layers to prepare for the change in temperature.
From the parking lot and visitors center, Clingmans Dome Observation Tower is 1/2 mile uphill. There are benches along the way that allow for breaks. Be sure to pace yourself and take breaks as needed.
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