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:

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 >>]
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 >>]
Smoky Mountain Full Hunters Moon
Smoky Mountain Full Hunters Moon...
Smoky Mountain Full Hunters Moon. Most of the time, the full moon isn't completely full. We always see the same side of the moon and part o[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Public Input Requested for Smoky Mountain Proposed Air Tour Management Plan...
Public Input Requested for Smoky Mountain Proposed Air Tour Management Plan. The National Park Service (NPS) and the Federal Aviation Admin[Read More >>]
Cades Cove Handicapped Accessible Trail Open To Public
Cades Cove Handicapped Accessible Trail Open To Public...
New John Oliver cabin trail opens in GSMNP! Cades Cove Handicapped Accessible Trail Open To Public. National Park officials celebrated the [Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Elk Rut
Smoky Mountain Elk Rut...
Love is in the air for Smoky Mountain Elk. Smoky Mountain Elk Rut is on. The call of the wild echoes in the Smokies as Bull Elks seek mates.[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Smoky Mountain Tomato Pie Recipe...
You will love HeySmokies' delicious tomato pie! Smoky Mountain Tomato Pie recipe is a favorite with the HeySmokies.com culinary crew. This s[Read More >>]
Newfound Gap Road Construction
Newfound Gap Road Construction...
Smoky Mountain Travel Advisory. Great Smoky Mountains National Park will resume daytime traffic closures due to road paving along an 8-mile [Read More >>]
Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville
Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville...
Visit Ijams Nature Center and find out why people love it so much! Ijams is a wild place filled with rocks, rivers, trees, trails, owls and sala[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Cades Cove Closed To Public...
Cades Cove closes for three weeks. Cades Cove Closed To Public. Bears and other wildlife will have an opportunity to breathe a sigh of reli[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 >>]
Tick Safety Tips!
Tick Safety Tips!...
Tick Safety Tips! Ticks and what you need to know to stay safe! It is that time of year in the Smoky Mountains. Summertime and outdoor activitie[Read More >>]
Five Best Hikes To Mount LeConte
Five Best Hikes To Mount LeConte...
These hikes to Mount LeConte are worth the effort! Five best hikes to Mount LeConte. LeConte Lodge is the only overnight lodging, [Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Laurel Falls Access Fee Proposed...
Laurel Falls Access Fee Proposed. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is seeking public input on the Laurel Falls Trail Congestion Manageme[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Smoky Mountain shuttle opportunities for Cades Cove Vehicle-Free Wednesdays...
Smoky Mountain shuttle opportunities for Cades Cove Vehicle-Free Wednesdays. Shuttles begin July 7, 2021 and will run through September 1, [Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Bear Attack
Smoky Mountain Bear Attack...
Smoky Mountain bear attack! Smoky Mountain Bear Attack. Great Smoky Mountain National Park officials have closed backcountry campsite 29 in [Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Strawberry Moon
Smoky Mountain Strawberry Moon...
Smoky Mountain Strawberry Moon is on the rise! Smoky Mountain Strawberry Moon is on the rise! This first full moon of summer 2021[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Hike Naked Day!...
Hike Naked Day! That is right, June 21st is the official international hike naked day! The free and easy event is often a rite of pass[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Smoky Mountain Cicadas...
Smoky Mountain Cicadas. What's all the buzz about? A rare natural history event is unfolding right now! This month through mid-July, bi[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Lights, Camera, Action! Appalachian Bear Rescue double your donation campaign!...
Lights, Camera, Action! Appalachian Bear Rescue double your donation campaign! Now's the chance to DOUBLE YOUR DONATION impact and give you[Read More >>]