No trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park could be complete without savoring the amazing views from the top of Clingmans Dome. One of the top things to do in the Smokies, you will not easily forget the incredible views over Tennessee and North Carolina. As you take in breathtaking views of range after range of the Appalachians, you will see why this is high on the list of Smoky Mountain attractions.
Things to Do in the Smokies Should Include Its Tallest Peak
When you summit Clingmans Dome, you are at the top of a mountain with a number of superlatives. It is the highest point on the entire Appalachian Trail and the tallest mountain in Tennessee. Only two nearby mountains in North Carolina check in as loftier in Eastern North America.
Unlike its competitors for tallest mount, however, Clingmans Dome can be reached easily by car, making it one of the top Smoky Mountain attractions for nature lovers with limited mobility. The Clingmans Dome Road was constructed by the National Park Service to allow for greater accessibility and will deposit you only 300 feet from the summit. The views along its 23 miles are worth the drive alone.
Once you park, head to the Observation Tower, which is easy to spot ahead of you. Walk up the spiral ramp which, although steep, means there are no steps involved. With a 13 percent gradient, you may need a quick stop to recover your breath and there are several benches along the way. From the top of the tower, you will be rewarded by 360-degree panoramic views of the two states that share the mountain.
In the spring, the Smokies burst into bloom, with the dark greens of the spruce-fir forest immediately below transitioning to other greens and the occasional splash of color. On a clear day, view stretch to 100 miles, with much of it the beautiful mountains and foothills of the Smoky Mountains.
Smoky Mountain Attractions Connect You with Nature
Make sure to plan your drive before you leave as on misty days, you may not be able to see anything from the Observation Tower! On the other hand, after storms lift, the mountains are wreathed in the famous smoky fog that gives the Smokies their name. Bring a jacket whether it is raining or not, as the elevation makes Clingmans Dome much cooler than Gatlinburg, and it is often 20 degrees cooler!
Visibility is also affected by air pollution, so make sure to donate to the national park to offset your carbon emissions. Or, for more experienced hikers, skip the car and walk to Clingmans Dome from Newfound Gap, a beautiful 7.5 mile hike each way. The peace and quiet from the trail will only make the amazing views better.
At the end of the day, head back to one of our cabins in Gatlinburg and relax by the fire or let the bubbling water of your hot tub ease your muscles. All of our cabins come with full kitchens, so you can start or end your day with a hearty meal. You will be glad you booked one as you enjoy the many things to do in the Smokies!