Update: Clingmans Dome observation tower closes

Clingmans Dome tower closesUpdate: Clingmans Dome observation tower closes. Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower will be closed Tuesday, July 10, 2018 through Friday, July 27, 2018 to complete a rehabilitation project that began last year. Workers need to apply a final surface overlay along the tower ramp.

Park visitors will be glad to know that Clingmans Dome overlook and parking area will remain open offering amazing views of the North Carolina side of the park and the surrounding mountains. The trail to the tower, visitor contact station/store, and all trailheads will remain open during the rehab work. Construction traffic is expected to make the drive to the overlook from New Found Gap slower than normal so give yourself extra time.

Last year, contractors repaired deteriorated areas on the concrete columns and walls, stabilized support walls at the base of the ramp, and repaired stone masonry. This work has been made possible through funding received from a Partners in Preservation (PIP) grant. The $250,000 grant was awarded in 2016 to the Friends of the Smokies on behalf of the park after being one of the top nine, most voted for parks in the Partners in Preservation: National Parks Campaign.

Straddling the North Carolina and Tennessee state line at 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the second highest peak east of the Mississippi river.  The tower is an iconic Smoky Mountain landmark and is the highest point in the park. The observation towers unprecedented design is part of the National Park Service’s Mission 66 program. The program transformed park planning, management, and architecture and fundamentally altered the visitor experience in national parks. Since 1959, millions of visitors have climbed the tower and it is a regular hiking destination for the HeySmokies expeditionary team!  One of the rewards of climbing the tower is the 100 mile view on clear days! The minimal preservation work being done will ensure that visitors can continue to enjoy the tower and surrounding beauty for years to come. For more information about the Clingmans Dome Tower, please visit the park website at NPS.

Partners in Preservation is a joint effeort between American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation awarding preservation grants to historic places across America. Since 2006 PIP has committed $16 million in preservation funding to nearly 200 diverse sites in eight cities across the country. The program hopes to inspire long-term support from local citizens for the historic places at the heart of their communities.

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