The Clingmans Dome Experience in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

starry-clingmans-dome-great-smoky-mountains-heysmokies

…feeling great at CLINGMANS DOME!

 Clingmans Dome is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This high elevation oasis in the clouds is the highest peak in Tennessee at 6,643 feet above sea level.

Getting There

From Gatlinburg: Take Newfound Gap Road (U.S. Hwy 441 South) for 14 miles to Newfound Gap. Just past Newfound Gap, turn right onto Clingmans Dome Road and travel 7 miles to the parking area.

From Cherokee: Take Newfound Gap Road (U.S. Hwy 441 North) for 19 miles and turn left onto Clingmans Dome Road and travel 7 miles to the parking area.

Be sure to note that Clingmans Dome Road is closed to motorists in Winter.

The parking area for Clingmans Dome is large but is often full due to the popularity of this beautiful spot. Composting restrooms can be found adjacent to the parking area.  Be sure to check out the kiosks along the walkway to learn more about the mountains and the people who have called them home. Near the parking area is a Visitor Center with maps, books, souvenirs, and volunteers to answer questions.

Take the drive to Clingmans Dome and discover why this high elevation, spruce-fir forest is one of our favorite spots in theGreat Smoky Mountains. Any time of year, any kind of weather, you will find inspiration in these mountains that will call you to return again and again.

Climbing the Dome

The paved trail is a half mile to the summit. It is a steady, uphill walk so be sure to take advantage of the benches provided along the way when you need a moment to catch your breath.

Once at the summit, take the final climb up the handicapped accessible observation tower for a breathtaking 360 degree view of the park and surrounding mountains. On a clear day, visibility can surpass one hundred miles. Not every day is clear in the high country of the Great Smoky Mountains and temperatures can vary by thirty degrees from the low lands.

clingmans-dome-great -smoky-mountains-heysmokies

Be Prepared

Temperatures and weather can vary dramatically from the valley below. Hypothermia is a REAL possibility year-round if you are caught without proper gear. Have a fleece jacket and raincoat handy for any visit to Clingmans Dome no matter the season or your skill level. A hat and gloves are always nice too!

Hiking Trails accessed from Clingmans Dome

  • Forney Ridge Trail  – can be found just below the Visitor Center and provides a lovely 1.8 mile walk to Andrew’s Bald.
  • Appalachian Trail  – at the base of the observation tower the trail intersects the famous Appalachian Trail. From this intersection a hiker may walk two hundred miles south to Georgia or two thousand miles north to Maine. No matter which direction you choose a little time spent on the AT is always time well spent. The views are magnificent any time of year.

What’s up with all the dead trees? Under attack!

Notice the “graveyard” appearance of dead Frasier Fir trees along the path to the tower. These lingering sentinels are a sad reminder of the threats our National Park faces every day. These trees were decimated by acid rain and an invasive species of insect known as the Balsam Wooly Adelgid. These pests literally suck the life out of the firs by drinking the trees sap. With no natural defenses the trees were sitting ducks when the assault began. Note the fir saplings sprouting up for they probably will not be here when you return. Few reach maturity before the insect strikes. Park biologists have been working hard to find a sustainable way to preserve this important part of the biosphere with mixed results. We are hopeful that a solution can be found to ensure the forest to the diversity it has had for centuries.

How did Clingmans Dome get its name?

brigadier-general-thomas-lanier-clingman-great-smoky-mountains-national-park-heysmokies

Brigadier General Thomas Lanier Clingman

 

Clingmans Dome is named after Brigadier General Thomas Lanier Clingman. He was a pioneer, explorer, soldier, scientist, and statesman. Clingman won the competition to accurately measure this peak in the 1850’s. General Clingman had a colorful life and was given the honor of having this peak named after him by the Swiss geographer Arnold Guyot. While the awe inspiring grandeur of the Clingmans Dome view will endure forever, sadly General Clingman died alone, penniless and institutionalized.

The concrete observation tower at Clingmans Dome was constructed in 1959.

More Hey Smokies Features:

Cades Cove Car Ban
Cades Cove Car Ban...
Cades Cove car ban is under way. Cades Cove Car Ban begins May 4, 2022 through September 28, 2022.  Cove visitors are encouraged t[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Tamale Recipe
Smoky Mountain Tamale Recipe...
Smoky Mountain Tamale recipe. Homemade tamales are always a Smoky Mountain special event! Did you know that the Smoky Mountains are on the [Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Dates Announced
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Dates Announced...
Smoky Mountain synchronous firefly dates announced. Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Dates Announced. Great Smoky Mountains National Park [Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Trail Volunteers Needed
Smoky Mountain Trail Volunteers Needed...
Smoky Mountain Trail Volunteers Needed. GSMNP is recruiting volunteers to adopt a trail along the 848 miles of maintained trails across the[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Smoky Mountain Parking Fee Proposed...
Smoky Mountain Parking Fee Proposed. GSMNP officials are seeking public input on proposed fee program changes for 2023, including a new pa[Read More >>]
Clingmans Dome Opens To Public
Clingmans Dome Opens To Public...
Clingmans Dome road opens to public! Clingmans Dome Opens To Public April 14, 2022. Clingmans Dome road normally opens April 1st. The delay [Read More >>]
Pigeon Forge Spring Rod Run
Pigeon Forge Spring Rod Run...
Pigeon Forge rod run will get your motor running! Pigeon Forge Spring Rod Run will get your motor running! The area's largest automotive eve[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Cades Cove Buffalo Herd Stampede...
Cades Cove Buffalo Herd Stampedes through the valley. Millions of visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were treated to a ver[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Southern Mac And Cheese Recipe
Smoky Mountain Southern Mac And Cheese Recipe...
Smoky Mountain Southern Mac And Cheese Recipe is the perfect side dish for any meal and sometimes it is a great meal all by itself. All you ne[Read More >>]
The Cades Cove Experience in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Cades Cove Experience in Great Smoky Mountains National Park...
The 6,800-acre valley comprising Cades Cove, one of the most visited areas of the park, provides a glimpse of a bygone mountain lifestyle. Trave[Read More >>]
Bears in Great Smoky Mountains | What You Need to Know
Bears in Great Smoky Mountains | What You Need to Know...
With the tourist season in full swing and a record number of visitors to the Smoky Mountains last year, the opportunities for an encounter with [Read More >>]
Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway...
Did you know that the Blue Ridge Parkway is connected to Great Smoky Mountains National Park? That's right; another National Park is a[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Welcomes 14.1 Million Visitors In 2021....
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Welcomes 14.1 Million Visitors In 2021. GSMNP experienced the busiest year on record with 14,137,812 vi[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Historic Walker Sisters Cabin Closed To Public
Smoky Mountain Historic Walker Sisters Cabin Closed To Public...
Smoky Mountain Historic Walker Sisters Cabin Closed To Public due to safety concerns. Built in the 1800's the cabin was occupied by the Wal[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Ice Curls
Smoky Mountain Ice Curls...
Smoky Mountain ice curls, whorls, tufts, feathers and mounds—all forms that natural ice can take on the ground under the right conditions. In a[Read More >>]
New Year Beans And Greens Recipe
New Year Beans And Greens Recipe...
New Year Beans And Greens Recipe. What is behind the Southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Years day? Some folk[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Smoky Mountain Geminid Meteor Shower...
The Geminid meteor shower will peak in 2021 on the night of Monday, December 13th and 14th. The Geminids are a reliable shower for those wh[Read More >>]
Enjoy a Drive on Scenic Highway 129 near the Great Smoky Mountains and Experience the Tail of the Dragon!
Enjoy a Drive on Scenic Highway 129 near the Great Smoky Mountains and Experience the Tail of the Dragon!...
Scenic Highway 129 starts in languid Chiefland, Florida, a far cry from the blue haze and cooler temperatures of the Great Smoky Mountains. Hund[Read More >>]
Christmas Cookie Recipe
Christmas Cookie Recipe...
Christmas Cookie Recipe. When the holidays arrive in the Great Smoky Mountains there are many HeySmokies sweet treat favorites but the tradition[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountains Fall Red Beauty Mountain Ash!
Smoky Mountains Fall Red Beauty Mountain Ash!...
Smoky Mountains Fall Red Beauty Mountain Ash! Who wouldn’t love a beautiful ornamental tree, not too large or too small, with an abundance of [Read More >>]