Clingmans Dome

#5 in Best Things To Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Clingmans Dome picture
Wray Sinclair/Getty Images

Key Info

Clingmans Dome Road

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Hiking, Sightseeing, Free Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.5scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 2.0Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

Clingmans Dome is not only the highest point in Tennessee, but also in the park itself. On a clear day, you may be able to see more than 100 miles. Take a jacket along – even in the summer – as temperatures at the 6,643-foot peak will be much colder than those in the lower elevations. There are several scenic pullouts along Clingmans Dome Road, which ends in a parking area at the trailhead. The trail is paved, but very steep, and leads to an observation tower at the summit. There are also several other trails that start at Clingmans Dome Road and its parking area, including the Appalachian Trail, which crosses Clingmans Dome and is the highest point along its route from Georgia to Maine. 

Recent travelers called this the most amazing sight in the mountains, despite the steep trail. Many advised visiting on a sunny day, as clouds and fog can obscure the stunning views from the dome. Some noted that parking is limited and especially hard to snag at peak times during the summer and on weekends. Most also advised bringing warm clothing, and some said the bathroom facilities were less than ideal. 

The road leading to the observation tower is closed from Dec. 1 through March 31, as well as other days throughout the year during inclement weather. A bike rack is located in the parking area near the beginning of the paved trail, as neither bikes nor pets are allowed on the Dome Trail or the other trails in the area. Clingmans Dome Road is 0.1 miles south of Newfound Gap, and about 7 miles off U.S. Route 441. Check the NPS website for directions and weather and trail conditions. 

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More Best Things To Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Roaring Fork Motor Trail1 of 9
Newfound Gap Road2 of 9
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Roaring Fork Motor Trail

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a nearly 6-mile-long, one-way loop road, offers spectacular mountain scenery and access to two of the region's most popular waterfalls: Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls. You can actually walk behind the 25-foot high falls at the Grotto via the Trillium Gap Trail. You'll also see historic log cabins and the remains of a mountain village, the Roaring Fork Cemetery and an array of wildlife from birds and deer to black bears.

Recent visitors who raved about the beautiful waterfalls and mountain scenery on this motor trail said this is a must-see and a great place to spot bears in the wild. However, some summer tourists bemoaned the fact that the trail was crowded and offered limited parking areas. To avoid the midday rush of visitors, plan your drive in the morning to beat the crowds.

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