Clingman’s Dome: Great Smoky Mountains

Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!

Rising to 6643 feet, Clingman’s Dome is the highest peak in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A 45-foot concrete observation tower stands atop the summit and straddles North Carolina and Tennessee. The National Park Service built it in 1959 as part of the “Mission 66” program.


The Clingman’s Dome Road begins at Newfound Gap. It is seven miles from the gap to the parking lot for the Dome, with pull-outs along the way to enjoy the scenery. Fog was rolling in as we pulled into the parking lot. By the time we’d climbed the 1/2 mile to the tower, it was completely socked in. On a clear day, visibility is up to 100 miles, but we couldn’t see anything from the top.


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.


Walking back down from the tower, we saw some guys standing in the brush with professional movie cameras. Perhaps they were making a nature film.


Location: Clingmans Dome, Forneys Creek, NC 28713
Designation: National Park
Date designated/established: Septempber 2, 1940
Date of my visit: August 2013

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