Tennessee was the 16th state admitted into the United States in 1796. Since then, its population has burgeoned to around seven million people. Tennessee is home to cultural meccas like Nashville, Knoxville, and Memphis, as well as incredible natural beauty, like the Great Smoky Mountains. In fact, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. With that kind of popularity, it’s no wonder that thousands of visitors stand on the highest point in Tennessee every year.
Here, we’ll discover just where that high point lies, and just how tall it is. We’ll also find out how you can get there, and what you need to know. Then we’ll explore what kinds of activities the surrounding area has to offer, and whether or not you can drive to the top. Finally, we’ll take a look at the other four highest points in Tennessee, and how they compare to the high point itself.
Read on to discover more about the highest point in Tennessee!
The Highest Point in Tennessee
Coming in at a whopping 6,643 feet tall, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in Tennessee. This astounding height makes it not only the highest point in the state but the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well. Clingmans Dome is located on Tennessee’s eastern border with North Carolina, about midway between the northern and southern borders of the state. Clingmans Dome actually straddles the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, though it’s not the highest point in North Carolina.
A large observation tower approached via a curving pathway of reinforced concrete dominates the peak itself. From the observation tower, visitors can enjoy a 360-degree view of the surrounding countryside. On clear days, the view can reach up to 100 miles in all directions. However, air pollution often limits the visible area to around 20 miles in any direction. Further, giant boulders and a thick forest of spruce and fir trees make the walk to the peak one to remember.
How Does Clingmans Dome Compare to the Rest of Tennessee?
The highest point in Tennessee, Clingmans Dome, rises 6,643 feet above sea level. Compared to the average elevation of the state, which is only 900 feet above sea level, Clingmans Dome is truly towering. However, the Dome sits in the Great Smoky Mountains, which are themselves much higher than the state average. Regardless, if you plan on making the trip to Clingmans Dome, be sure to dress for mountain weather and temperatures.
How Do You Get to Clingmans Dome?
The first thing to know about getting to the highest point in Tennessee is that it’s not entirely ADA accessible. A paved road terminates half a mile from the peak, at the Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station. From there, peak-seekers must traverse a graveled, albeit very steep, half-mile trail to the top. The trail’s steepness is unavoidable but also makes it inaccessible to those who use a wheelchair. Additionally, bicycles and pets are not allowed on the trail or at the peak itself.
If you’re planning on driving to Clingmans Dome, be sure to go between April and November, as the road to the Visitor Contact Station is closed between December and March. For those looking for a more scenic route to the top, there are several hiking and backpacking trails that lead to the Dome. First among these is the popular Appalachian National Scenic Trail, as well as the Forney Ridge Trail, the Clingmans Dome Bypass Trail, and the Forney Creek Trail.
Things to Do Near Clingmans Dome
If you’re an outdoorsy person, then chances are you’ll find plenty to do hiking, backpacking, and camping in the Great Smoky Mountains. But, what else is there to do near the highest point in Tennessee? Well, if you’re a history buff, then you’re in luck. Nearby attractions include the Mountain Farm Museum, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Museum, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and more.
But, what if you want to see a bamboo forest, or a zoo full of bears? Well, you’re in the right place. Clingmans Dome is close to both the Cherokee Bear Zoo and the Oconaluftee Island Park.
Five Highest Points in Tennessee
The five highest points in Tennessee are all located in the Great Smoky Mountains. As we’ve learned, Clingmans Dome is the highest point at 6,643 feet. The second highest is Mount Guyot, at 6,621 feet elevation. The third highest peak is Mount Le Conte, which has three distinct peaks at 6,593 feet, 6,555 feet, and 6,443 feet elevation, respectively. Mount Chapman comes in fourth at 6,417 feet elevation. Finally, Old Black is the fifth highest point in Tennessee at 6,370 feet tall.
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- , Available here: https://www.tn.gov/
- , Available here: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/clingmansdome.htm#:~:text=At%206%2C643%20feet%2C%20Clingmans%20Dome,mountain%20east%20of%20the%20Mississippi