This post is part of a travel series of our vacation in the Smokey Mountains. To start at the beginning, go HERE! The rest of the posts in chronological order are HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE!
On Day Five, after visiting the Farm Museum and Mingus Mill we headed up to the highest point in the Smokey Mountains: Clingman's Dome. If you're planning a visit to the Smokies, be sure to check the weather before heading to Clingman's Dome as it can be drastically different "up there" than it is in Gatlinburg. We actually tried going up to Clingman's Dome the day before and we got caught in a horrific rain storm. There were so many clouds, we couldn't see more than four feet in front of our car. It was actually very scary, so we decided to turn around and try again the next day. But even turning around was terrifying because it's a mountain road, and very narrow, and we hoped and prayed a car wasn't coming back down the mountain as we were trying to turn around.
The next day however, was a beautiful, sunny day so we got a second chance to see the views!
Clingman's Dome is a beautiful structure located on top of the Smokies. At 6,643 feet it is the highest mountain in the park and one of the highest peaks in the eastern part of the United States.
There is a very large, spacious parking lot to Clingman's Dome but as a warning, get there early, because parking still fills up fast. When we got there, parking was just starting to fill, but by the time we were done the entire lot was filled and there were cars lined up down the mountain road for at least 1/2 mile.
You do not want to have to park on the road for the hike to the dome is challenging enough. When I was coming back down from the dome, I saw one young woman in her 20's who looked like she was about to pass out at the start of the trail. I was so perplexed how she could be so exhausted already at the start of the trail when she was so young. Then as we were leaving, and I saw all the cars lined up on the road to the parking lot, I realized she must have climbed a lot just to get to that point. Poor thing, because this was a tough trail. It's only 1/2 mile and completely paved, but boy, is it steep! Everyone, young and old, fit or not fit, seemed to be struggling. It made me wonder why they didn't put in some type of transportation to the dome, like a ski lift or something, then everyone could enjoy it!
The views along the trail were just beautiful. Actually, the views from the parking lot were incredible too! I don't even think the hike to Clingdom's Dome is worth the effort to be honest with you. You can see great views from the parking lot. Perhaps that's why they don't put in a ski lift. I'm sounding so lazy here aren't I? 😊 Truly, I love to hike, and we do go on a lot of challenging hikes, but for some reason, I didn't really enjoy this one. Maybe because it's not technically a "hiking trail", but just a steep, annoying, crowded path...with great views along the way and a lookout at the end.
I was relieved when we finally got there, and I was very impressed with the structure itself. I loved how it curved in a circle going up to the dome (as seen in the very first picture of this post).
You do get above the tree line if you go to the top of the dome, whereas if you don't make the hike and just choose to enjoy the parking lot views you are at tree level.
The next two pictures explain all you can see from the dome on a clear day and construction of the dome itself.
I must admit I was a bit nervous on the dome. I don't know why, it was very safe. I just feel a little on-edge when heights are involved. Perhaps that is why I didn't enjoy my hike up so much. The crowds didn't help, because I was worried someone would push me over the railing on accident or something. Stupid, I know. But when your afraid of heights those irrational fears manifest.
I was very relieved to get off the dome and head back down the mountain. We didn't spend much time at the top at all. I immediately felt myself relax as we headed back down, and I was finally able to just enjoy the views and the experience.
Like I said above, you don't have to climb to the top to enjoy the views. This beautiful spot was at parking lot level, so if you have a handicapped person in your party, or are very elderly, or have very small children, you can still go to Clingdom's Dome and walk around a bit and enjoy the views.
I think we enjoyed ourselves walking the perimeter of the parking lot more than we did at the top of the dome. There were less people, and we were able to take our time and get some great photos.
Hubby even found this amazing rock formation and decided to climb it. He is not afraid of heights at all!
And finally, here is a video of me walking up the Clingdom's Dome structure. You can sense in the video I'm not thrilled to be up there. Again, part of it was all the people up there that put me on edge. All the talking you hear in the video is not us, but all the people surrounding us. The video is worth a watch because you really get a sense of the scope of the structure and it's height that you can't get in just a photograph.
Have A Great Day! Amy
Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!
We took a detour a couple of years ago to see Clingman's Dome on our way home from Myrtle Beach. Lucky for us we found a parking space but it was late in the day already (evening).ReplyDelete
The views truly are incredible and these pictures are absolutely beautiful! I have to agree with you that the hike up there wasn't too exciting as it was just a concrete way up, thankfully there are the pretty views all around. I'm pretty sure my daughter climbed up that same rock formation and she found the cutest mouse in that area there too :-)
I remember you saying that. I also read all the time that the best times to visit the parks is early in the morning or late afternoon/evening, that's probably why you found a parking spot. Yes, the views are amazing. And I bet it was the same rock formation because I don't recall seeing another one in that area.Delete
I couldn't imagine being up there in the rain and crazy weather!! I love the views and thanks for taking us along!ReplyDelete
It was pretty scary! Thanks, and you're welcome!Delete
Yes! I have those same irrational fears around heights! I often have to use self- talk to combat the weird ways I think of falling to my death when heights are involved. What beautiful views!!ReplyDelete
Good to know I'm not alone. Thanks so much.Delete
I don't like heights either. Such a lovely hike. So very beautiful.ReplyDelete
Good to know I'm not alone. Thanks so much.Delete
I'm afraid of heights too and always have irrational fears about falling to my death. What beautiful views though!ReplyDelete
Jill - Doused in Pink
It seems there's a lot of people just like us...afraid of heights. Good to know I'm not alone. Thanks so much.Delete
que pasada de puente, es facinante, me encantaria verloReplyDelete
Oh, it's not a bridge, although it does look right one. It's just a curve that leads to a tower. I suppose it curves like that to make it easier to get to the top of the tower.Delete
anda, que bueno, pues es preciosa la curvaDelete
Yes, it is very beautiful.Delete
The hike looks lovely although being afraid of heights I don't think I'd get up there to the top of the dome, haha! I'd be happy on the ground!ReplyDelete
Hope you are having a good weekend :) Another rainy day here.
Away From The Blue
Thank you. I was happier on the ground myself. ha ha.Delete
I've heard of this place but never quite made it there, so your photos are great to see!ReplyDelete
Your link this week at 'My Corner of the World' is appreciated!
Thank you Betty!Delete
Amazing views! Thanks so much for sharing your trip and even your misgivings about the height!ReplyDelete
That fresh Smoky Mountain air agrees with you. You look happy and healthy and radiant. I am not this would be something I would enjoy either. Not too keen on heights. But glad you were rewarded with beautiful views from the dome and the parking lot.ReplyDelete
Aww, thanks so much! Fresh air is so good for you.Delete
That place is amazing and what a view. Thank you for sharing.ReplyDelete
Amy, these views are amazing! I don't know if I could handle that hike to Clingman's Dome! Mostly because the elevation would freak me out! I start getting vertigo really bad from my fear of heights. I remember it getting really bad at about 9,000 feet in Yosemite way back a million years ago. So I tend to appreciate the mountain views from a little lower down! Thanks for sharing this amazing experience with us!ReplyDelete
Thank you! Wow! Yosemite is way higher than the Smokies!Delete