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Clingman's Dome - Smoky Mountains National Park

Clingman's Dome at 6,643 feet is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the highest point in Tennessee, the highest point of the 2,144 mile Appalachian Trail and second highest point in the North America East of the Mississippi River. Mount Mitchell in North Carolina is the highest point East of the Mississippi River at 6,684 feet. Clingman's is the most visited of the US highpoints and is the western terminus of North Carolinas Mountain to Sea trail.

Clingman's Dome
Latitude: N 3533'46"
Longitude: W 8329'56"
Elevation: 6,643' (2,025 meters)

The state line between North Carolina and Tennessee divides the peak of Clingman's Dome. The top of the mountain has an annual rainfall of 83 inches, 25 more inches than nearby Gatlinburg just 20 miles away.

Clingman's Dome observation Tower - Great Somky Mountains NP
Photo by Todd Ratermann

Clingman's Dome Rd is closed to motorized vehicles in the winter time. This can be a great time for cross country skiing or bicycling the road when weather permits.


The summit is easily reached by a .6 mile moderate to strenuous hike which gains 400 feet in elevation. The trail is paved and restrooms and drinking fountains are available near the parking area at the end of Clingman's Dome Rd which is accessed near newfound Gap. This road is closed in the winter time.

Clingman's Dome Trees Killed By Balsam Wolly AdelgidOnce you arrive at the parking lot you will start to notice some dead Spruce Fir trees. These tree were killed by an the Balsm Woolly Aphid  an insect that was accidentally introduced to the New England area of the United States in the late 1800s.  The Woolly Aphid eventually migrated south brought by wind and on birds, they ended up in the Smoky Mountains in 1963 and on Clingman's Dome in the 1970's, eventually killing about 95% of the mature Fir trees in the park. 

At the top the top of the mountain is an observation tower that was built in 1959. The tower rises 54' above the tree canopy to reveal spectacular 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains. The tower also straddles the state line and is also wheelchair accessible. 

The Hike: If you plan to hike to the top, be prepared for  temperatures that are often 10-15 degrees cooler than nearby Gatlinburg, TN or Cherokee, NC. 


Trout LilyClingman's Dome is open year round. However, Clingman's Dome Rd. generally closes December 1st through April 1st. During this period you can reach the Dome by either hiking up the Appalachian Trail or Clingman's Dome Rd. or when there is snow you can cross country ski or snowshoe 7 miles from New Found Gap parking area.

Clingman's Dome is named after Thomas L. Clingman (July 27th, 1812 to Nov. 3, 1897.) a civil war General and US Senator from North Carolina. He was appointed as a US Senator (D) in 1858 to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Asa Biggs. During the civil war he was one of ten Senators who refused to resign and was expelled in absentia. 


Directions: From Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg Tennessee, follow Newfound Gap Road (US 441) into the park for 13 miles. Turn right (west) onto Clingman's Dome Road and drive 7 miles to the parking area.

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