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Clingman’s Dome is the highest peak in Great Smoky Mountains National Park at just over 6600 feet. Visitors can take the 7-mile road to the Clingman’s Dome lot, walk an extremely steep, albeit paved, half-mile path to a 54 foot observation tower. Although the GPS address is in North Carolina, Clingman’s Dome actually straddles the state line ridge so that it is both in NC and Tennessee.
Because of the elevation, the weather here is very unpredictable. On our first day in the park, we started out visiting some of the lower elevation areas of the park and it was a nice sunny day. By the time we reached the lot for Clingman’s Dome, it was pouring rain to the point where we could hardly see the road. We carefully turned around and went back to Gatlinburg (where it was only drizzling) and did some sightseeing in town. On our last day in the park, we attempted again to visit Clingman’s Dome. While it wasn’t raining, it was completely fogged in. We did the hike to the tower anyway because we weren’t going to have another chance.
While we weren’t able to enjoy the 360 degree views from the tower (which we hear isn’t as spectacular as it can be due to pollution) we did get some pretty cool shots of the fog rolling down the mountains.
Location: Clingmans Dome, Forneys Creek, NC 28713
Designation: National Park
Date designation declared: 9/02/1940
Date of my visit: August 2013