The Highest Point In The Great Smoky Mountains

9 Essential Facts You Must know About Clingmans Dome

1. What Is Clingmans Dome?

At The Base Of Clingmans Dome Observation Tower The Appalachian Trail Crosses Clingmans Dome Highest Point
The base of Clingmans Dome offers a great resting spot.

Located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Clingmans Dome Observation Tower is the highest point within the park and sits on top of the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. Depending on the day and time of year, from atop the dome, you can see up to 100 miles in all directions.

2. Is There A Cost To See Clingmans Dome?

The View From Highest Point On Clingmans Dome'S Summit In Great Smokey Mountains
Looking over at the North Carolina side of the Smokies.

No. Clingmans Dome Observation Tower is free for anyone. However, the hike is a little strenuous and for people not accustomed to the incline, should take their time walking up.

3. Is There A Parking Lot At Clingmans Dome?

The Parking Area / Parking Lot The Appalachian Trail Crosses Clingmans Dome Clingmans Dome Parking Area
The parking lot has a ton of spaces to park. Pictured above is only a fraction of the spots.

Yes! The parking lot at Clingmans Dome is actually quite large. Finding a parking spot should not be an issue on most days.

4. When Is Clingmans Dome Open in 2022?

Clingmans Dome Trail Sign The Appalachian Trail Crosses Clingmans Dome
Only a half mile up to the highest point in Smokey Mountains National Park!

Clingmans Dome will be open from 4/11 – 11/30 during the 2022 season. During this time period, Clingmans Dome can be accessed during any time of day. However, park rangers will only be at the visitor center during normal operating hours listed below.

While winter time is beautiful here, the tower is hard to reach due to snow, ice, and cold temperatures.

  • April – May: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • June – August: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • September – October: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • November: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

5. What Is The Walk To Clingmans Dome Like?

Looking Down The Steep Half Mile Trail
The paved trail leading to Clingmans Dome looks like this the entire way.

The walk up to Clingmans Dome Observation Tower is slightly strenuous, coming in at 1.2-miles. Although the distance is not bad at all, the constant 12% grade of the trail is what takes the most out of you. A paved trail makes walking up easier along with handicap accessible.

Along the trail, you will get a few sneak peak of what to expect looking through the spruce fir forest on your left. Most of the time there is too many trees in the way, but there are a few spots with a view of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Once at the base of Clingmans Dome Observation Tower, a nice sitting area is present to rest your feet. After resting, continue up the spiral slope and bam, your at the top!

6. How Long Does The Walk To Clingmans Dome Take?

The Highest Point In The Great Smoky Mountains Concrete Observation Tower
A large spiral leads to the top of the tower.

From start to finish, the walk to Clingmans Dome Observation Tower takes about 1 hour. This all depends on physical ability, amount of people on the trail, and how long you spend at the observation point. A good indicator of how busy the trail will be is to watch the amount of cars driving in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If they are heading in the same direction as you, more than likely they have the same destination.

7. Is Clingmans Dome Dog Friendly?

Camping French Bulldog

Dogs are not allowed to go to Clingmans Dome. However, service dogs are allowed.

The last time I was walking the trail, a lady came up to the trailhead with her dog. The Park Ranger said that dogs are not allowed unless it is a service animal. He also said he is not allowed to ask for proof that your dog is a service animal. Take and do with that information whatever you will.

8. What Is The View From Clingmans Dome Like?

The View From The Highest Point In Great Smoky Mountain National Park
The observation tower has 360 views just like this.

The view from Clingmans Dome Observation Tower is full of breathtaking scenes. On a clear day sightlines up to 100-miles can be seen. You are surrounded by mountains peaks all around you, and can see the different weather patterns within each individual valley.

Be sure to check the weather so you don’t miss these amazing views. Foggy conditions can ruin the experience all together. They don’t call it the Smokies for nothing.

9. Directions To Clingmans Dome

Newfound Gap Right Before Clingmans Dome Road
Clingmans Dome Road is directly after Newfound Gap parking area.

Getting to Clingmans Dome Road is very easy. Entering Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Gatlinburg, take Newfound Gap Road all the way to Newfound Gap Parking Area. Right after the parking area, Clingmans Dome Road is the first right hand turn on the right. This is the road leading right to the parking lot.

I recommend stopping at Newfound Gap for some great lookout opportunities. Although it isn’t the highest point in the park, the views here are still incredible. While driving Clingmans Dome Road, there is not much to see until you get to the top, so get the great sights in now!