(GSMNP) Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower will be closed Tuesday, July 10 through Friday, July 27 to complete a rehabilitation project that began last year. The remaining final surface overlay work was scheduled to be completed earlier this summer; however, numerous rain events resulted in the delay of the project.
While visitors will not be able to climb the tower, the Clingmans Dome parking overlook area will remain open and offers outstanding mountain top views. The visitor contact station and store, the trail up to the tower, and all access to the trailheads in the vicinity will remain open. Visitors should expect some construction traffic in the vicinity of the contact station and along the trail.
Last year, contractors repaired deteriorated areas on the concrete columns and walls, stabilized support walls at the base of the ramp, and repaired stone masonry. This work has been made possible through funding received from a Partners in Preservation (PIP) grant. The $250,000 grant was awarded in 2016 to the Friends of the Smokies on behalf of the park after being one of the top nine, most voted for parks in the Partners in Preservation: National Parks Campaign.
Straddling the North Carolina and Tennessee state line at 6,643 feet, the tower is a prominent landmark and destination as the highest point in the park. The observation tower is a precedent-setting design of the National Park Service’s Mission 66 program, which transformed park planning, management, and architecture and fundamentally altered the visitor experience in national parks. Since 1959, millions of visitors have climbed the tower, where they can see distances of up to 100 miles over the surrounding mountains and valleys. Some minimal preservation work today on the tower will ensure that visitors continue to experience this unique structure spiraling up from the highest point in the park.
For more information about the Clingmans Dome Tower, please visit the park website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/clingmansdome.htm.