Directions To Clingmans Dome:
From Gatlinburg, the drive to Clingmans Dome is an enjoyable 23 miles (approximately) of picturesque views! Depending on the time of year, plan on 1 hour (low-season) to 2.5 hours (high-season) driving time to the 6,643’ elevation summit.
1 – Head Southwest on TN-71/South US-441/South Parkway until reaching the Sugarlands Visitor Center
2 – Continue past the Sugarlands Visitor Center on TN-71/South US-441/South Parkway for 13.2 miles
3 – Turn Right on Clingmans Dome Road (immediately after Newfound Gap parking area)
4 – Continue on Clingmans Dome Road for 6.4 miles to Clingmans Dome parking area
Once you reach the summit of the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi, the views will immediately captivate you!
Insider Tip — The road leading to Clingmans Dome is closed annually between December 1 and March 31st. In addition, the road is closed whenever weather conditions require. If you have a question regarding the road conditions, stop at the Sugarlands Visitors’ Center near the Gatlinburg entrance to the Smoky Mountains National Park and speak with a park ranger.
At the summit, there are bathroom facilities, ample parking, a paved walking trail, observation deck, and gift shop. The observation deck, parking area, or trailhead area, is the perfect place to watch a sunset or a sunrise!
Insider Tip — Since the temperature is approximately 20 degrees less than the temperature in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, bring a thermos of coffee/hot chocolate and warm clothes. Snowfall is likely anytime between September and May.
The short one-half mile hike to the Clingmans Dome observation deck has an elevation increase of 332 feet, which results in a steep gradient of 12.6%. Although individuals requiring frequent stops may require 30 minutes or more, most people complete the hike to the observation deck in 15 minutes. The high altitude at the summit, which is 6,643’, provides 360 degree unobstructed views of the Smoky Mountains. On a clear day, the visibility from the observation deck is over 100 miles!
Insider Tip — Even though the trail is paved and the hike is only one mile round-trip, the reduced oxygen at the high altitude and steep gradient may make this hike unsuitable for young children, elderly, or individuals that are out of shape.
Although picnic tables are not available at Clingmans Dome, you can:
1. Stop at the Chimneys Picnic area during the drive up (Approximately 6 miles outside of Gatlinburg)
2. Plan to park on the “edge” and enjoy a picnic lunch with a view from your car
3. Bring a blanket and have a picnic lunch on the grass
With an enjoyable drive through the Smoky Mountain National Park to the summit, a fun .5 mile paved hike, and incredible 360 degree views, it is no surprise that TripAdvisor ranks Clingmans Dome the number one attraction in the Smoky Mountain National Park! Most visitors to our Smoky Mountain Cabin agree — Clingmans Dome is not to be missed!