At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the highest point in Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi.
Only Mt. Mitchell (6,684 feet) and Mt. Craig (6,647), both located in Mt. Mitchell State Park in western North Carolina, rise higher.
The observation tower on the summit of Clingmans Dome offers spectacular 360° views of the Smokies and beyond for visitors willing to climb the steep half-mile walk to the tower at the top.
On a clear day, one can see nearly 100 miles. Unfortunately, air pollution drops the average visibility to 20 miles.
Due to the elevation of Clingmans Dome. Temperatures average 10-20 degrees cooler than surrounding lower areas. Precipitation, as well as fog can be expected on your trip. The cool, wet conditions on Clingmans Dome’s summit make it a coniferous rainforest.
Clingmans Dome is accessed via Clingmans Dome Road in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Clingmans Dome Road is open annually from April 1 through November 30. From the entrance of Clingmans Dome Road, you can expect a 7 mile drive. The road ends in a large parking area from which a 0.5 mile trail leads to the summit. The trail is paved but steep, and leads to an observation tower on top.
Pets and bicycles are not permitted on the paved trail to the observation tower, or on any other trails in the area. A bike rack is located near the beginning of the paved trail to park bikes while walking to the top. You will need to bring a lock with you to secure your bike.
Besides the trail to the summit, there are several trails that start on Clingmans Dome Road and parking area. The Appalachian Trail (AT) 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.
A Clingmans Dome Sunset is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Amateur and professional photographers form a line at the Clingmans Dome area approximately 45 minutes prior to sunset.
This is one of the most amazing and breathtaking natural events you will ever witness as the sky displays spectacular scenery of clouds, mist, and the sun as it throw off many shades of red and orange before it moves straight across the sky and slides perfectly into a white circle.
One of the best things about trekking to Clingmans Dome is that it’s free! There is no entrance fee to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. So for a no-cost activity you can gain so many subsidiary activities from it; such as the exercise during the hike in, photo opportunities, great views from the observation tower and enjoyment of the peacefulness of nature that surrounds you in this gorgeous area.