clingmans dome
October 13, 2022

Clingmans Dome is a must-visit spot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The high elevation makes visitors feel as if they are on top of the world. They also love it because of the breathtaking views of the sky and nature scenery! Whether you’ve visited once or 50 times, get to know this famous landmark a little better. Here are 5 interesting facts about Clingmans Dome!

1. Record-Breaker

Clingmans Dome is located along the state line of North Carolina and Tennessee. It is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park coming in at 6,643 feet. The landmark also sets the record for both the highest peak in Tennessee and the third highest peak east of the Mississippi.

2. Observation Tower

The Clingmans Dome observation tower stands above the forest floor.

The observation tower sits at the very top of Clingmans Dome. As you stand on it, you can see a 360 degree view of the always beautiful Smoky Mountains that spans over 100 miles! It is a great place to watch the sunrise or sunset! The tower was built in 1959 in an effort to attract more visitors to the park. The project definitely worked! In 2021, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park had a record number of visitors. In that year, the park had over 14,137,812 visits. This amount is 2 million more than the number of visitors in 2020. It’s safe to say that people love coming to the park for the stillness and the gorgeous nature scenery. The observation tower at Clingmans Dome only serves to make things better by making it easier to see!

3. Secret Tunnel

Did you know that there is a secret tunnel below Clingmans Dome? It was once part of the trail and used as a hiker’s underpass. Unfortunately, it was cut off from the trail in the 1960’s. Today, the tunnel is not as easy to find, but it still stands. When you find it, you will be rewarded with a beautiful view on the other side!

4. Animals on Clingmans Dome

brown creeper bird

If you like looking at animals in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Clingmans Dome area is a great place for birdwatching! The high elevation gives you a great view! Watch them soar from treetop to treetop! Some of the bird species you might see there include the northern saw-whet owl and the brown creeper. It is sure to be an “owl-some” time!

5. How Did Clingmans Dome Get Its Name?

What is Clingmans Dome named after? Originally, the Cherokee people called the famous mountain Kuwahi, which means mulberry place. However, in the 1850’s, it was changed to Clingmans Dome to be named after Confederate general, Senator Thomas Lanier Clingman.

We hope you loved these facts about Clingmans Dome. If you want to know more about it or need help planning a trip, explore our Clingmans Dome information page!