Best time to visit North Carolina

Clingmans Dome in North Carolina

Drive up to the highest point in the Smokies

Best time: April–November

Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome
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Clingman's Dome or Clingmans Dome is a mountain peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park set on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, USA. Having an elevation of 6,643 ft (2,025 m) above the sea level, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in Tennessee.

A high mountain pass leading to the summit is called Clingmans Dome Road. To get to the route, you have to turn off Newfound Gap Road (a part of the U.S. Highway 441) 0.1 mile (161 m) south of Newfound Gap. From this point, you’ll follow a scenic 7-mile (11.3 km) drive to Clingmans Dome. The pass is steep but asphalted and generally in good condition.

The road ends with a vast parking area. Here you should leave your vehicle and keep on walking for half a mile (805 m) to get to the concrete observation tower, built in 1959. It hovers 45 ft (14 m) over the summit. From the tower, you'll enjoy a 360-degree view of the National Park. On bright and sunny days, the views expand over 100 mi (161 km) and are especially stunning at sunrises and sunsets.

The pass to the tower is winding and steep. Hence, it’s not suitable for wheelchairs. Besides, pets and bicycles are not permitted at the trail and in the observation tower area.

The Clingmans Dome Road is closed between December and March due to snow. It might also be closed on other days if the weather conditions are severe and unfavorable for the ascend to the summit. Also, beware that the temperature at Clingmans Dome is on average 10-20 °F (5-11 °C) degrees lower than in the surrounding areas. Hence, even in summer, you should better carry some warm clothes with you.

Aside from Clingmans Dome, several other trails start on Clingmans Dome Road. For picturesque views on the Great Smoky Mountains, you may take the Appalachian Trail (AT) or the Forney Ridge Trail.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Clingmans Dome?

It is recommended to visit Clingmans Dome between April and November, when the weather is pleasant and the summit road is open. The road is closed from December to March due to snowfall, and it can be closed on other days due to severe weather. Thus, checking the weather forecast before planning a visit is advisable. Show more

Where is Clingmans Dome located?

Located on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, Clingmans Dome is a peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The summit is accessible from Clingmans Dome Road, which ends in the National Park. From the parking lot, visitors need to hike for half a mile to reach the summit. Show more

What is the elevation of Clingmans Dome?

With an elevation of 6,643 feet (2,025 meters) above sea level, Clingmans Dome is among the highest points in both the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Tennessee. While visiting, be prepared for colder temperatures at the summit compared to the lower altitude areas, even during summers. Show more

Are pets and bicycles allowed at Clingmans Dome?

Visitors cannot bring pets or bicycles on the trail leading to the top of Clingmans Dome as the trail is steep and not suitable for either. However, well-behaved dogs on a leash are allowed on some of the other trails originating from Clingmans Dome Road. Show more

What other trails start on Clingmans Dome Road?

In addition to the trail leading to the summit of Clingmans Dome, two other trails, the Forney Ridge Trail and the Appalachian Trail, also originate from Clingmans Dome Road. The 1.6-mile long Forney Ridge Trail offers an expansive view of the Smoky Mountains, while the 71-mile long section of the Appalachian Trail that runs through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can also be accessed from here. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin