At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the highest point in Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. Only Mt. Mitchell (6,684 feet) and Mt. Craig (6,647), both located in Mt. Mitchell State Park near Asheville, rise higher. It's about 25 miles from Cherokee, North Carolina, and 75 miles from Asheville.
A seven-mile road from Newfound Gap on U.S. 441 leads to a large parking area with very nice views, along with restrooms and a souvenir shop. For more spectacular 360° views of the Smokies and beyond, climb the steep half-mile paved walkway to the "flying saucer" tower at the top. On clear days, views expand more than 100 miles. Unfortunately, clouds, precipitation, and cold temperatures are common at Clingmans Dome. Temperatures at the summit can be 10 -20 degrees cooler than in the surrounding lowlands. In fact, the cool, wet conditions on Clingmans Dome's summit make the spruce-fir forest that grows there a coniferous rainforest.
Dress in layers and be sure to bring a jacket, even in summer. We took most of these photos on an usually chilly July morning with temperatures in the mid 30s!
Visit April-November. The road leading to it is closed from December 1 through March 31, and whenever weather conditions require. There is no admission charge.
Besides the trail to the summit, there are several trails that start on Clingmans Dome Road and parking area. The Appalachian Trail (AT) crosses Clingmans Dome, marking the highest point along its journey from Georgia to Maine. The Forney Ridge Trail leads to Andrews Bald, a high-elevation grassy bald (read more about this hike).
Directions: Turn off Newfound Gap Road 0.1 mile south of Newfound Gap and follow the 7-mile Clingmans Dome Road to the large parking area at the end.