It has been more than a week that Clingmans Dome Road has been closed due to dangerous winter conditions even though today is the first day it should have been closed for the winter season.
I just wanted to watch the sun rise and set at Clingmans Dome for the last time of the season without having to walk the 15 miles which I love to do in deep snow.
Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains national park and the second highest point east of the Mississippi after Mount Mitchell.
The observation tower at its peak is visible for miles if you know where to look and can even been seen year round from the North Carolina side on Newfound Gap Road.
The observation tower can offer a stunning view of the Smokies and beyond depending on weather and atmospheric conditions as well as pollution including ozone levels.
Sadly, as time goes on and pollution levels have been increasing, the long range view from the Clingmans Dome tower has been decreasing.
The tower is only a 1/2 mile from the Clingmans Dome parking area and the path that takes you to the tower is paved but be forewarned, you may wish to take your time and rest at one of the benches as if you are not in top condition you may get winded by this steep walk.
In 1963 Clingmans Dome is where I became the Smokies Hiker, refusing a helping hand and walking up a far more primitive version of the present day hiking path to the top.
As you can see by the vintage picture of me, I was sporting the gangster wannabe baggy look, rather than one of my present day hiking uniforms. Either way my first hike here in the Smokies was certainly not my last!
Prior to my arrival to the new concrete Clingmans Dome observation tower, the original tower was made of wood and the Fraser Fir along the mountain tops which are now gray skeletons were in far better shape.
Looks like Newfound Gap Road may be closed for quite a while as the snow is falling fast and it is predicted to snow for the next few days. If it opens up soon enough I will hike to Clingmans Dome in the snow for a magical experience in the Smokies.