Stunning Views at Clingmans Dome
Everyone visiting the Smoky Mountains wants to see stunning views of the magnificent surrounding landscape. Look no further than Clingmans Dome - the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
From the summit of this mountain top, you can take in breathtaking scenes of the Smokies and view 7 states from its observation tower. If you've come to the Smoky Mountains to take in the splendor of its natural wonders, this mountain top is a must-see attraction to add to your list of hikes in the Smokies.
Facts About Clingmans Dome
At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point within the national park, and, in fact, the highest point in Tennessee. Clingmans Dome is also the third-highest mountain east of the Mississippi, with Mt. Mitchell (6,684 feet) and Mt. Craig (6,647) in North Carolina standing above it. On clear days, views from the summit expand 100 miles, though air pollution often only allows visitors to see up to 20 miles (which is still quite a beautiful sight).
Clouds, precipitation, and cold temperatures are common at Clingmans Dome due to its high elevation. Expect the temperatures at the dome to be 10 -20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than in the surrounding lowlands. These cool, wet conditions at the summit allow for the coniferous rainforest to thrive around it.
Although Clingmans Dome Observation Tower throughout the year, the road leading stays closed during the winter (December 1 through March 31) and whenever weather conditions require.
Hiking Clingmans Dome
You'll start your journey to this scenic summit by driving up the seven miles of Clingmans Dome Road, which lies just off of Newfound Gap Road. The drive itself offers plenty of scenic pullouts that feature their own gorgeous views of the area's ridges and valleys.
The road ends in a large parking area where guests can also find a gift shop with hiking guides and equipment. Vacationers should be advised that during peak season the parking lot can be crowded.
When preparing to hike the half-mile trail that leads to the summit and the Clingmans Dome Observation tower, hikers should consider a few things:
- While on a paved trail, bikes, and pets are not permitted on the trail leading to the observation. If you do bring your bike, make sure to take a lock as well to secure your bike on the bike rack next to the paved trail up to the observation tower.
- Prepare for the change in temperature. Dress in layers and bring a jacket. You'd be surprised how chilly it can get even in the summer. In the cooler months, make sure you bundle up well (earmuffs, coat, gloves) as the high altitude can be quite cold.
- The trail, though short, is quite steep. Keep this in mind as you plan your hike, and know that there are benches on the way up to rest if needed.
- The steep trail makes it inaccessible to wheelchairs. Although handicapped vacationers can still get out to enjoy the stunning views from the parking lot.
- There are park attendants in several areas if you need assistance in any way on your Clingmans Dome hike.
Keeping these things in mind, novice and experienced hikers can enjoy taking in the spectacular views that wait at the end of the trail. The 45-foot observation tower allows you to glimpse 360° from Clingmans Dome's summit.
Throughout the year, vacationers can enjoy different scenes of natural beauty. In the spring, enjoy seeing freshly budded trees all along the horizon. In the summer, rolling hills of green stretch as far as the eye can see. In the fall, frost laces the fiery hues of autumn foliage on chilly mornings. Even on cloudy days, the high elevation places you above the clouds, creating a landscape of mountain peaks peeking out from pillows of clouds.
In addition to the trail to the summit, there are several other trails that start on Clingmans Dome Road and the parking area. The Appalachian Trail crosses Clingmans Dome, marking the highest point along its journey from Georgia to Maine. The Forney Ridge Trail leads to Andrews Bald, a high-elevation grassy bald.
Clingman's Dome, TN is a must-see spot for vacationers looking to enjoy great views of the Smoky Mountains. Guests staying in nearby Gatlinburg vacation rentals will enjoy the short drive over to this spectacular summit.
Written by Brittany Tipton