Clingmans Dome is one of the most popular destinations for travelers to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Millions of visitors to the Park come each year to hike, take in the incredible views and stand atop the observation tower. To help you learn more about this popular destination, here are some Clingmans Dome facts.
- Highest Point in Tennessee
Not only is Clingmans Dome the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it is also the highest point in the state of Tennessee! At 6, 443 feet, it is the third highest peak east of the Mississippi. It makes for a fantastic spot to watch sunrises and sunsets in the Smoky Mountains.
- The Road to Clingmans Dome is Seasonal
The Clingmans Dome Observation Tower is open year-round. However, the road to get there does close seasonally. It is typically closed from the beginning of December through the end of March. Even though the road is closed, many still choose to hike to the observation tower. It is a 7 mile hike along the road before you reach the tower. During the winter, the road is also a popular destination for cross country skiing and snowshoeing!
- 360 Degree Views
Clingmans Dome offers a 360 degree panoramic view! On clear days, you can even see up to 100 miles. Typically speaking, the view is usually about 20 miles due to air pollution, but it can be up to 100 on those clear days! No matter how far the view, we know you will still love the experience and view from the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower.
- Hiking Trails
In addition to the trail that leads to the summit of Clingmans Dome, there are several other hiking trails that begin along the Clingmans Dome Road. One of those is the Appalachian Trail. It crosses Clingmans Dome and actually marks the highest point along the trail’s journey from Georgia to Maine. Another popular trail is Forney Ridge Trail. It takes you to a beautiful bald called Andrews Bald. It happens to be one of the most popular hikes within the National Park.
- The Secret Tunnel
A lot of people do not know this, but there is a secret tunnel under Clingmans Dome Road. The archway is less than a mile west of the junction with Newfound Gap Road. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, who are also responsible for the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and the Mount Cammerer tower. No one is really sure for the reasoning behind the construction of the tunnel, but there are a few possible possibilities. One is that the tunnel was designed for equestrian use to eliminate conflicts between horses and vehicles. Another possibility is the fact that Clingmans Dome Road is elevated above the Appalachian Trail, so switchbacks or stairs would have been needed to go up or down the road crossing.
Like we mentioned, Clingmans Dome is a loved activity among visitors to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We hope you enjoyed and learned something new with these Clingmans Dome facts. And we hope to see you in the upcoming year in Pigeon Forge and the Smoky Mountains. Be sure to view our vacation condo rentals when you begin to plan an upcoming trip to the Smokies!