Blog for Zip line Attraction in the Smoky Mountains
Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.
By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on August 7, 2018
There's good news this week from Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Clingmans Dome Observation Tower is open once again to the public after being closed for several weeks. The tower had been closed so work crews could add surfacing to the ramp leading up to the tower, part of a major renovation project that began in 2017.
This latest phase of the project is complete, but visitors should be aware that although the tower is accessible again, there is still construction equipment at the site. And as always, the ramp is considered too steep for wheelchair and bicycle access. (Pets are also still prohibited.)
Standing approximately 6,600 feet above sea level, the tower marks the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains and the third highest point east of the Mississippi River.
To reach the parking area, you travel seven miles west along Clingmans Dome Rd., which turns off Newfound Gap Rd. (U.S. Hwy. 441). From the parking area, visitors walk the paved and relatively steep half-mile path to the 54-foot observation tower, which offers 360-degree views of the park and the region beyond. In fact, you can see as far as 100 miles away, depending on the weather conditions.
The road to the dome is closed from December 1 until April 1, because snow at that elevation typically can make driving treacherous in winter and early spring. And even when the area is open, plan your wardrobe accordingly, because temperatures up there can be 10 to 20 degrees cooler than in the surrounding lowlands. Clouds and precipitation are common, and the cool, wet conditions can necessitate dressing in layers or bringing a jacket, even in summer.
Those visiting the observation tower will find a visitor center and restrooms near the parking area. There are also several other nearby hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail (this is the highest point on that route) and Forney Ridge Trail, which leads to Andrews Bald.
On your way to or from Clingmans Dome, be sure to make a stop at the Newfound Gap overlook on U.S. 441. At 5,046 feet, the gap is the lowest driveable pass across the mountains, and it's near the Tennessee-North Carolina state line. At this location, you'll find the Rockefeller Memorial, which honors a $5 million donation from the Rockefeller Foundation, which in turn helped fund the creation of the national park in the 1930s. This is also the site where President Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the park in 1940.
Even the drive to Newfound Gap and beyond is beautiful. From the vantage point of your vehicle, you'll enjoy sweeping vistas that feature majestic mountain peaks and deep undulating valleys. The road is hilly and curvy, so don't plan on breaking any speed records, but whether you're just headed out for a scenic drive or crossing the Smokies spine to reach Cherokee, North Carolina, the trip is well worth it.
Once you're back on the Tennessee side of the Smokies, don't forget to leave enough time in your schedule to spend a few hours at our Gatlinburg zipline attraction. We're located a short drive from the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and you'll enjoy some pretty awesome views of the mountains while you're here at Smoky Mountain Ziplines. Not to mention thousands of feet worth of ziplining adventure and thrills…