Clingmans Dome Observation Tower in the Smoky Mountains
March 7, 2023

Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and in Tennessee overall, coming in at 6,643 feet. Since the observation tower was built in 1959, visitors love to come back time and time again to see the breathtaking views. When planning your visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it is important to keep in mind that Clingmans Dome Road is closed from December through March. This is due to the hazardous conditions that snow and ice can cause in the winter months. This road may also close unexpectedly at other times of the year because of other conditions, such as heavy rain. Don’t worry though! There are still ways to get to Clingmans Dome all throughout the year. With that being said, here is how to get to Clingmans Dome when the road is closed:

Hike Clingmans Dome Road

view from Clingmans Dome in the Smoky Mountains

You’ll be happy to know that the Clingmans Dome observation tower is open year-round. Even though Clingmans Dome Road is closed during the winter, you can still walk up the road to get to the observation tower. When going this route, it is important to note that it is about 17.5 miles round trip. The strenuous nature makes his route best suited for experienced hikers. When you do complete it, you can be greeted at the end by beautiful views of fall foliage or blankets of snow. On a clear day, the views stretch for up to 100 miles.

Hike the Appalachian Trail

Another way to get to Clingmans Dome is to hike the Appalachian Trail. The route is very famous. It stretches across 14 states and Clingmans Dome is just one of the many beautiful spots. To get to Clingmans Dome, you’ll start on mile 72 of the Appalachian Trail where Newfound Gap meets Clingmans Dome Road. Similar to hiking on Clingmans Dome Road, the Appalachian Trail route is also very rigorous and better for experienced hikers. When taking either of them it is important to stay safe. Dress warmly if you’re hiking in the colder months. No matter what the temperature is, be sure to wear good shoes. They can keep your feet from getting tired and help you maintain your footing. Additionally, be sure to drink lots of water and apply sunscreen on the parts of your body that receive direct sunlight, such as your face and neck.

How to Get to Clingmans Dome When the Road is Open

Clingmans Dome Road leading to the observation tower

When Clingmans Dome Road is open, it is considered one of the easiest hikes to take. The roundtrip length from the parking area to the top of the observation tower is only 1 mile, and the trail is paved as well. This route is great no matter what your level of hiking experience is! However, keep in mind that the steepness of the trail can cause difficulty for some hikers. Once you get to the top, though, the views will be more than worth the hike it took to get there!

Now that you know how to get to Clingmans Dome even when Clingmans Dome Road is closed, we bet you can’t wait to learn more about it and start planning your visit. Take a look at these 5 interesting facts about Clingmans Dome, then prepare to experience this special spot in the Smokies yourself!