sunset at clingmans dome
July 29, 2022

When you vacation in the Smoky Mountains, you will have the opportunity to explore numerous scenic drives! It is a common misconception that you have to go hiking to enjoy the natural scenery of the mountains. However, you can get the same experience without ever leaving the comfort of your car! One of the most popular scenic drives in the Smokies travels 7 miles to one of the best scenic lookouts in the area. Here are 4 reasons to take a drive on Clingmans Dome Road:

1. Amazing Scenery

While you will want to walk to the top of the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower, the drive to the overlook is filled with additional scenic views. Throughout the 7-mile drive, you will find many pull-offs where you can take some time to enjoy the beauty of the mountains. Be sure to bring a camera along to capture photos to take back home to your friends and family. In addition to mountain ranges, you will also be treated to the spectacular sights of the underlying ridges and valleys as Clingmans Dome reaches 6,643 feet, making it the highest point in the Smokies.

2. Observation Tower

Clingmans Dome Observation Tower in the Smoky Mountains

At the end of the road, you will come to a parking lot that leads up to the observation tower. Although the hike to the top is paved and only 0.5 miles long, it can be a challenge for some to make it to the top due to the steepness of the ramp. Fortunately, there are plenty of benches along the way where you can stop to take a breather. Once you reach the peak, you will be amazed by the gorgeous scenery that awaits. On clear days, it is estimated that you can see over 100 miles in the distance, but air pollution normally limits the view to around 25 miles.

3. Varying Temperatures

The drive on Clingmans Dome Road is the perfect summer activity because the higher elevation will give you a break from the heat. On most days, temperatures at the dome are between 10 to 20 degrees cooler than you will find at the surrounding lowlands. No matter what time of year you decide to visit, be sure to pack a light jacket because it can get chilly due to the change in elevation along the way. The road is normally closed from December until March because of the high volume of snow that collects along the road.

4. Wildlife Sightings

black bear relaxing in the grass in the Smokies

While you are sure to see plenty of gorgeous mountain views along Clingmans Dome Road, there is also a chance you may catch a glimpse of some of the native creatures in the Smokies. There have been reports of visitors seeing all sorts of animals along the side of the road, including turkeys, deer, and even black bears. Be cautious as you make your way to the observation tower because you never know what you may see on the banks of the roadways.

Now that you know about why you should take a drive on Clingmans Dome Road, be sure to check out some of the other incredible scenic drives in the Smokies! We look forward to seeing you soon!