Clingmans Dome

Viewpoint in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Image by kellyvandellen Getty Images

‘On top of Old Smoky’ is Clingmans Dome (elevation 6643ft), the park’s highest peak. At the summit, a steep, half-mile paved trail leads to an observation tower offering a 360-degree view of the Smokies and beyond. It can be cold and foggy up here, even when the sun is shining in Sugarlands, so bring a jacket. The tower resembles something of a flying saucer, with a gently curving ramp leading up to the top.

Panels around the viewing platform indicate names of the surrounding peaks and distant places of interest.

As one of the must-see sights in the park, Clingmans Dome gets crowded, especially in the summer. Note that the 7-mile access road to Newfound Gap Rd is closed to vehicles from December through March. The viewpoint is open year-round, however, for those willing to hike in – take care on the trails, which can be icy even in March or April.