clingmans dome

Gatlinburg Travel Blog

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Clingmans Dome, located near the center of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park just off of US-441 (aka Newfound Gap Road), is the most visited US State highpoint in the most visited US National Park. From the fairly unique lookout tower (often called the "flying saucer") one can see beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains, often with clouds nestled between ridge after ridge of mountains. This is the highest peak on the Appalachian Trail. Winter is fun up here as lots of rime ice forms on the tree branches and green plants can be seen completely coated in several millimeters of clear ice. Another good, but crowded, time to visit is during the fall foliage season when the leaves turn all different shades of red, orange, and yellow - quite the feast for the eyes.

The easiest way to visit the summit "flying saucer" is to drive up the US-441 to Newfound Gap (5000') and take the 7-mile Clingmans Dome Road to the parking lot.

From there follow a 0.5 mile paved path up to the tower. Another way to reach the summit is to take the 7.7 mile section of the Appalachian Trail from Newfound Gap which parallels the road to the summit. The former is the most popular way to reach the summit for highpointers while the second is probably the most popular way to reach the summit for peakbaggers in the South Beyond 6000 Program. Winter makes this trip more fun since the Clingmans Dome Road is closed and skiing in may be necessary. Ice on the concrete ramp to the flying saucer also makes for sliding fun :-)



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see the eagles flying around
see the eagles flying around
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photo by: vulindlela