Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome is the highest point in all of Tennessee and the tallest mountain that can be found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A paved road provides a means of access to the peak’s upper reaches, and waiting at the top is a concrete observation tower that affords splendid views of the surrounding mountains.

Not only is Clingmans Dome the highest point in Tennessee and the loftiest peak in the Smokies, it is also the highest point along the renowned Appalachian Trail. Also worth noting is the fact that Clingmans Dome is among the tallest mountains east of the Mississippi River. Only the North Carolina peaks of Mount Mitchell and Mount Craig are taller. As for exact heights, Clingmans Dome tops out at 6,643 feet, Mount Craig at 6,647 feet, and loftier Mount Mitchell at 6,684 feet.

The Appalachian Mountains offer up plenty of amazing views, and the views only seem to get more impressive the higher up you go. This is a big reason why Clingmans Dome is a popular tourist attraction. There’s also the fact that no other mountain top within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park boundaries is easier to access. A paved road known as Clingmans Dome Road leads to the upper reaches, and this road is open most of the year. It only closes from December 1 to March 31 and when weather conditions in general become adverse. This paved road is connected to US Highway 441, or Newfound Gap Road, as the highway is also known.

Clingmans Dome essentially sits on the Tennessee-North Carolina border, and on clear days, those who are positioned atop the mountain’s observation tower can see as far out as 100 miles. Fog and air pollution can limit the views on some days. Interesting to note is the fact that the observation tower atop Clingmans Dome has a dual purpose. In addition to being a lookout tower, it is also serves as a station that is dedicated to monitoring air quality.

Visitors to Clingmans Dome can park their vehicles in a large parking lot at the end of Clingmans Dome Road. From there, it is a half-mile walk along a trail to get to the observation tower. As for what to bring when visiting the mountain, a jacket is a good idea, even during the summer. Weather is different at altitude than it is at ground level, and it’s not rare for the temperatures atop Clingmans Dome to be up to 20 degrees less than they are in the lowlands.

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