Family Activities:

Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome


Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome

U.S. Route 441, Between Sugarlands and Oconoluftee, , Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

Newfound Gap is roughly at the midpoint of Newfound Gap Road, which connects the Sugarlands Visitors Center on the Tennessee side with the Oconaluftee Visitors Center on the North Carolina side. The scenic overlook, at 5,048 feet in elevation, offers mountain views that are simply stunning on clear days. It’s obvious why this was chosen as the spot for President Roosevelt to dedicate the park in 1934. The Appalachian Trail also crosses over this place, right on the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina.

On the Tennessee side, just before the Newfound Gap parking lot, you’ll see a turnoff to the right. This is Clingmans Dome Road (closed in winter), a seven-mile spur that takes you to the trailhead for the short but steep Clingmans Dome trail. At the end of this half-mile path is an observation tower that will give you a 360-degree Smoky Mountain view. (Note: The trail is paved all the way, so you can push a stroller up it, but be prepared to take rest breaks, because it is quite steep.) Clingmans Dome, at 6,643 feet in elevation, is the highest point in the park (not to mention the entire state of Tennessee) and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. Restrooms are located near both the parking lot for Newfound Gap and the parking lot for Clingmans Dome.