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Clingmans Dome

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Clingmans Dome. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Clingmans Dome is located in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, in North Carolina. The National Park and the observation tower are all free. Clingmans Dome Road is closed early December through late March due to weather conditions making the road bad because of the elevation, so plan accordingly.

Clingmans Dome
Photo credit By David Dugan, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59020987

When you hike to the observation tower you will be able see 100 miles on a clear day. Which will allow you to see seven states, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. When it’s not clear, which happens often you might only be able to see about 20 miles.

Clingmans Dome
Photo credit By Billy Hathorn – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20556728

The hike to the observation tower covers a half-mile distance and typically takes about an hour. While the trail is paved, it’s quite steep, rendering it unsuitable for wheelchair access. Due to its steepness, the trail is rated as moderate to difficult, ascending 332 feet within the half-mile stretch, with the steepest grade reaching 13%.

Reaching the observation tower rewards you with an unforgettable 360-degree panoramic view, marking the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains. Positioned at 6,643 feet, the peak offers stunning vistas. It’s essential to prepare for temperature variations as the elevation change can lead to a temperature difference of 10-20 degrees. Even during the summer months, wearing layers and carrying a jacket is advisable.

Additionally, a hidden gem in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the Thomas Divide Tunnel. Located on Clingmans Dome Road, this abandoned tunnel sits 0.2 miles beyond the access gate. Easily spotted after passing a stone bridge, the tunnel is nestled beneath it. Simply stroll down the hill and explore this intriguing abandoned site.

Clingmans Dome
Photo credit By ljb06, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59164241

Clingmans Dome Road serves as the starting point for multiple trails, including the iconic Appalachian Trail. Notably, this spot marks the highest elevation along the entire Appalachian Trail, spanning from Georgia to Maine.

Clingmans Dome
Photo credit By Brian Stansberry – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8052598

Clingmans Dome is the perfect addition to your next road trip, and a must on your Bucket List. Close to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, it is the ideal place to take in the view of the Great Smoky Mountains! For nearby hotel accommodations click here.

Share your experience and photos in the comments below. Happy Travels

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