Driving to Clingmans Dome, the Highest Point in the Smokies

Clingmans Dome is a high mountain peak at an elevation of 2,025m (6,643ft) above sea level, located on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, in the southeastern United States.

Clingmans Dome

Where is Clingmans Dome?

The peak is located on the border between Sevier County (in the eastern part of Tennessee) and Swain County (in the western part of North Carolina). It is the highest point in Tennessee and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi: only Mt. Mitchell (6,684 feet) and adjacent Mt. Craig (6,647) are taller.

How Did Clingmans Dome Get Its Name?

Located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the peak takes its name from Thomas Clingman, an American Civil War General, Senator, and explorer, who was the first to suggest that it was the region’s highest peak.

Can you drive to the top of Clingmans Dome?

The road to the summit, also known as Clingman's Dome and Kuwahi, is totally paved. It’s called Clingmans Dome Road. The road ends in a large parking area from which a 0.5-mile trail leads to the summit.

How long is Clingmans Dome Road?

Starting at U.S. Highway 441, near Newfound Gap, at an elevation of 1,539m (5,048ft) above sea level, the road is 11.26km (7.0 miles) long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 486 meters. The average gradient is 4.31%.

Is Clingmans Dome Road open?

The winding road to the summit is open annually from April 1 through November 30 but can be closed whenever weather conditions require. Weather conditions can change quickly. Clouds, precipitation, and cold temperatures are common, and snow will fall anytime between September and May. Temperatures at the summit are usually 10-25 degrees cooler than where you start your drive in Cherokee.

Is Clingmans Dome worth it?

At the summit, there’s a 45-foot (14 m) concrete observation tower, built in 1959, offering spectacular 360° views of the Smokies. On clear days views expand over 100 miles in every direction and into seven states. There are many pullouts along the road that provide beautiful views of the mountains. There is a Park Visitor Center and restrooms at the Clingmans Dome parking area. Throughout the road, there are 12 different waterfalls for tourists to see.