Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Newfound Gap & Clingman’s Dome Road

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Welcome back to National Parks with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

Another way to tour Great Smoky Mountains National Park by car is via the Clingman’s Dome Road. The first time we drove to Clingman’s Dome, we weren’t able to get out of the car at the Dome lot because a storm had descended on us. But on the drive up, we were able to stop at several pull-outs for breathtaking views.

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We began at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. We perused the exhibits, watched a short film and got our bearings for the drive into the mountains.

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From the visitor center, it was about 13 miles to Newfound Gap. We pulled over at some scenic vistas. There were dark storm clouds in the distance.

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At 5000 feet elevation, Newfound Gap  is the lowest pass through the Smoky Mountains. It was discovered in 1872. Prior to that, the lowest pass was thought to be Indian Gap, two miles to the west.

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At Newfound Gap, you can straddle the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. The Appalachian Trail is also accessible here.

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The Clingman’s Dome Road begins at Newfound Gap. It is seven miles from here to the parking lot for the Dome, with more pull-outs along the way to enjoy the scenery. If you’re lucky, you’ll climb to the Dome at the end of the drive.

But on this day, we had to be content with the journey and save the destination for a sunny day.

To see my other Great Smoky Mountain National Posts, click the following links:

Location: Gatlinburg, TN

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 9/02/1940

Date of my visit: August 2013

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Top 10 Posts of 2018

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! As 2018 draws to a close, I’d like to do a year-in-review post. It’s been a great inaugural year here on the blog, with 113 posts, over 5000 visitors and over 600 people following along on the journey. I am grateful for and humbled by your support.

Here are the top ten most popular posts from 2018 (you can click on each title to go to the original post):

10: Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Clingman’s Dome (Tennessee/North Carolina)DSC05739

9: Montezuma Castle National Monument (Arizona)IMG_5657

8: Muir Woods National Monument (California)F-_2012_2012-08-11-San-Francisco_DSC02511

7: Crater Lake National Park – Garfield Peak (Oregon)Day7-IMG_6122

6: Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)DSCN0953

5: Flathead National Forest – Whitefish Mountain (Montana)IMG_1677

4: Acadia National Park – Loop Road Highlights (Maine)IMG_1355

3: Acadia National Park – Jordan Pond and the Bubbles (Maine)2007_0527(009)

2: Glacier National Park – Running Eagle Falls (Montana)IMG_1792

And the most popular post of 2018….Capitol Reef National Park – Cathedral Valley (Utah)IMG_8712

Happy New Year everyone and here’s to happy exploring ahead for 2019!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Clingman’s Dome

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Welcome back to National Parks with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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.

DSC05697Because 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

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We saw these guys making a nature film as we were walking back down from the tower. Not sure what they were filming…bees?
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Lots of dead trees up on this mountain..they are Fraser Firs which are being attacked by a European insect against which they have no defense
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And of course the sun started to come out as soon as we were back down at the parking lot, climbing rocks.