7 Things to Know About Clingmans Dome Before Your Hike

November 01, 2022

When you visit the Great Smoky Mountains, you can’t miss out on the most popular destinations and that includes Clingmans Dome! People come from all over the world to experience the hike and breathtaking views from the 360-degree observation deck. To help you with your trek to the top, we want to share 7 things you should know about Clingmans Dome before you head out on the hike.

1. It’s the highest point in the national park.

towerStanding at 6,643 feet, the observation tower is the highest point in the national park. There’s nothing quite like looking out at the mountains in the distance, knowing you’re probably at the tallest point you’ve ever been!

2. The trek to the top is paved.

Unlike a majority of the hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the path to Clingmans Dome is paved. This makes it easier to travel because you won’t have to worry about tripping over rocks and tree roots on your way to the top. Although the paved trail does make it easier, the steepness of the trail can make it a little challenging to beginners, young kids, and older adults. Just pace yourself, and you’ll be good to go!

3. Clingmans Dome Road closes during winter.

At the end of autumn, the Clingmans Dome Road closes to vehicles for winter. It typically closes at the end of November and opens back up again in April. But the observation tower doesn’t close! Clingmans Dome Road is used for cross country skiing during winter. Many skiers or people who want to enjoy the area during winter will hike along the road in the snow and then ski back down.

4. See up to 100 miles away on the deck.

The mountain view from clingmans domeSince this observation tower is the highest point in the park, you can expect to see incredible views at the top. On a crystal clear day, you could see over 100 miles away! You could also go on a day when the smokiness of the Smokies is high, preventing you from seeing quite that far away. Either way, you’ll have an incredible view!

5. This area is 20 degrees colder than the rest of the park.

Since the elevation at Clingmans Dome is so high, the temperature difference is significant. On average, there is a 20-degree difference between the lower elevations at the observation tower. You might want to pack an outer layer you can put on if it gets chilly along your climb to the top!

6. There are restrooms at the trailhead.

Throughout most of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there aren’t restrooms except for at a few places, and Clingmans Dome happens to be one of them! However, these restrooms are not connected to any plumbing, so they are more like a port-a-potty. But you have a place to go when nature calls!

7. Take breaks when needed.

clingmans domeLike we said before, the trek to the top of the tower can be considered steep. Plus, anyone who is not used to being at these high elevations could need to take breaks along the trip. There’s nothing wrong with stopping when you need to, and the park service has even provided benches along the path for people who want to take it easy on the way up. Plus, you might see so much more than if you just kept going!

These are just some cool facts and useful tips to help you when you make your way to the top of the tower! Want a more in-depth explanation of the hike? Learn about hiking to Clingmans Dome now!