The Clingmans Dome observation tower stands above the forest floor.
June 30, 2022

If you want to experience the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll want to make the drive out to Clingmans Dome! This popular destination is generally open from early April to late November, depending upon the current weather conditions. However, even if you are visiting in the summer months, you’ll want to bring a jacket as the temperatures are 10 to 20 degrees cooler than in the surrounding lowlands! Here are the top 4 reasons why you need to visit Clingmans Dome:

1. Fun Bragging Rights

Clingmans Dome is closed for most of the winter months, so not everyone gets the chance to enjoy this exciting destination! While standing at the peak that reaches 6,632 feet, you’ll be on the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. The only higher peaks are Mt. Mitchell and Mt. Craig, which stand at 6,684 feet and 6,647 feet, respectively. Since the temperature can be significantly different than the lowlands, you’ll want to dress in layers whether you’re visiting in July or October!

2. Spectacular Views for Miles

view from Clingmans Dome in the Smoky Mountains

Since Clingmans Dome is the highest spot in Tennessee, you can enjoy spectacular views for miles around! You can see as far as 100 miles away on clear days, but on most days the views are limited to under 20 miles due to air pollution. This area is also famous for its concrete observation tower with stunning views, so you’ll definitely want to make the effort to climb the steep half mile trail up to the tower. Be sure to bring your camera or cell phone along for the adventure so that you can capture some of the best photos of your vacation! The observation tower is a fantastic place to take a family photo or a couple of selfies!

3. Excellent Hiking Options Nearby

Another one of the reasons why you need to visit is because there are many excellent hiking options in the nearby area! In addition to the trail to the summit, the Appalachian Trail passes through Clingmans Dome on its highest point between Georgia and Maine! You may also want to explore the Forney Ridge Trail, which leads to Andrews Bald and other breathtaking viewpoints!

4. No Admission Fee

A winding path leads to the top of the observation tower at Clingmans Dome.

This area is located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so there is no admission fee just like the rest of the park! The same holds true for the observation tower, so enjoy climbing to the top! If the hike gets too strenuous, you can take several breaks by taking advantage of the benches located along the path to the tower. Once you get close to the tower, a winding concrete ramp gradually brings you from the parking lot to the observation deck. If you have some folks in your group who can’t make the climb, rest assured that there are plenty of beautiful views from the trail itself!

Now that you know why you need to visit Clingmans Dome on your next trip to the Smoky Mountains, discover some of the other popular destinations within Great Smoky Mountains National Park!