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2,010 votes

Clingmans Dome Observation Tower

Clingman's Dome Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina 28713 USA

Free to Visit
  • Independent
  • Not Wheelchair
  • Public
  • No Wifi
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“Highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains (6,643')”

Clingmans Dome Tower constructed in 1959 is in the 800+ square mile Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Reviewed by
Johanna Flato

  • Expert
  • 145 Reviews
  • 125 Helpful
September 26, 2014
Rated 4.0

I wasn't expecting the crowds that I found up at Clingman's Dome. It is flooded. I'd say, get away from the parking lot ASAP. Clayton from Smoky Mountain Guides gave me some great advice: take the little dirt path down to the left instead of the concrete stairs. It's a bit more of a hike but is totally worth it to skip out on some of the crowds.

This is the highest point of the Appalachian trail--you go across the dome on the hike. The Appalachian trail is the dividing line between TN and NC through the Smokies, and you can see a 360 degree view in both directions from the Dome.

It is a sacred place for the Cherokees and was/is thought of as a place "where the bears dance in the mountains." On a clear day, you can see down to Fontana Lake in North Carolina, which might just look like a glowing blue cloud (it did to me). The Cherokees considered the lake to be a place of healing, and would hike down to it. There are a bunch of information boards about the Cherokees up there.

On another note about bears...Clayton says it's probably good not to eat KFC on the drive up and then leave the windows open. You'll end up finding a bear tearing your car apart. Just YouTube it if you have any doubts.

14 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 10 Reviews
  • 17 Helpful
August 23, 2016
Rated 4.0

Breathtaking views. About 15 minutes driving off 441 inside the park and a half mile trek up a very steep, paved trail. Parking was scarce at the head of the trail. Bathrooms are essentially cinder block porta-potties and equally "breathtaking"

8 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 332 Reviews
  • 190 Helpful
July 14, 2014
Rated 4.0

This place is amazing. It's the highest elevation in the Smokies and offers 360 degree views all around the park. Great hike, although probably best to avoid if there's a big storm rolling in.

5 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 7 Reviews
  • 8 Helpful
July 30, 2014
Rated 5.0

Beautiful. We hiked up the paved path but took the AT and Clingman's dome bypass trail back to the parking lot. The hike back was awesome! I would absolutely recommend it to the crowded paved path although it took a while longer.

4 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 3 Reviews
  • 7 Helpful
June 26, 2014

Absolutely a MUST SEE... But bring a sweatshirt and pants cause with the altitude it's much much colder.. Bring a good camera too

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 29 Reviews
  • 54 Helpful
September 08, 2014
Rated 4.0

I would say the hike can take awhile. Took me about 30mins to get to the top. The day I went was pretty foggy so I wasn't able to see the view as much. The view was still beautiful none-the-less. Make sure to bring a jacket because it does get a little chilly at the top. Wish I could of seen the mountains but was just so awesome to be able to reach the highest elevation top for TN. :) I will check it out again on a clearer day!

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
April 17, 2021

Sometimes you really have to wait for a parking spot but it’s constantly moving. Worth waiting to hike up the hill which is well paved but steep. Be patient! You are on vacation 😉

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 9 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
June 28, 2019

Your site says this place is pet friendly, after doing some research I found that dogs are NOT allowed anywhere other than the parking lot. Removing this stop from my trip :-(

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
July 25, 2014
Rated 4.0

Great view and well worth the hike to the top. Don't go when it's cloudy though.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
January 22, 2014

A must see.

1 person found this review helpful

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Clingmans Dome Observation Tower

Clingman's Dome Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
North Carolina
28713 USA
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