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Cherokee in Swain County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
The Top of the Smokies
Clingmans Dome
 
The Top of the Smokies Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 18, 2011
1. The Top of the Smokies Marker
 
Inscription. At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest mountain in Great Smokey Mountains National Park and is one of the highest peaks in the eastern United States.

An observation tower at the summit takes you above the treetops for a panoramic view. Climatic conditions, however, may interfere with long-range viewing, Clouds sometimes shroud the tower and rain in frequent. Be prepared for cooler temperatures and wind.

The paved trail to the observation tower is steep. Your body may not be used to the thinner air up here. If you experience shortness of breath, slow down or stop to rest.

Distance to Clingmans Dome: ½ mile
Ascent from parking area: 330 feet
Walking time to tower: 30 minutes

Please help to preserve the park for all to enjoy. It is unlawful to remove or disturb plants or animals or to remove or deface natural or historical features. Pets are prohibited on the paved trail to the observation tower and on all other trails in the area.

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As you walk to the observation tower, notice the dead trees along the trail. They were Fraser firs, which grow only at the highest elevations in the Smokies.

During the past 30 years, a tiny insect that was accidentally introduced from Europe, the balsam woolly adelgid, has killed more than 70 percent of
 
The Top of the Smokies Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 18, 2011
2. The Top of the Smokies Marker
 
the park's mature firs. Adelgids feed on tree sap, interfering with the flow of water and nutrients. They can kill a fir within a few years.

From the tower today you might see the misty blue-gray clouds for which these mountains were named. These clouds occur naturally as a result of great quantities of evaporating moisture.

Unfortunately, you might also see am unnatural whitish haze that limits your view-air pollution. Sulfate particles, mainly from coal-fired power plants, scatter sunlight and are the chief source of the whitish hazy pollution.
 
Erected by Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
 
Location. 35° 33.416′ N, 83° 29.778′ W. Marker is in Cherokee, North Carolina, in Swain County. Marker can be reached from Clingmans Dome Road 7.2 miles west of U.S. 441. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Cherokee NC 28719, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. And It Became Land (a few steps from this marker); Mountains: Refuge and Healing (within shouting distance of this marker); Horace Kephart's Last Permanent Camp (approx. 5 miles away); Land of Blue Smoke (approx. 5.4 miles away); “To the free people of America” (approx. 5.4 miles away in Tennessee); Great Smoky Mountains National Park (approx. 5.4 miles away); A Mountain Sanctuary (approx. 5.4 miles away); Lifeblood of the Mountains (approx. 5.4 miles away in Tennessee). Click for a list of all markers in Cherokee.
 
The Top of the Smokies Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 18, 2011
3. The Top of the Smokies Marker
 

 
Also see . . .  Clingmans Dome. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Submitted on June 28, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 
 
Western View Photo, Click for full size
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 18, 2011
4. Western View
Looking west you can track the course of the North Carolina-Tennessee boundary. Through most of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the state boundary also marks the course of the Appalachian Trail, which passes just below this tower. The trail leaves the boundary near Gregory Bald, cutting south toward Shuckstack.

One of the longest footpaths in the world, the Appalachian Trail extends more than 2,100 miles (3380 km) between Georgia and Maine. In the spring, northbound "thru-hikers," who are attempting the entire trail, usually pause here to enjoy the view. At 6,643 feet (2025m), Clingmans Dome is the trail's highest point.
 
 
Western View Photo, Click for full size
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, April 28, 2011
5. Western View
 
 
Northern View Photo, Click for full size
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 18, 2011
6. Northern View
People come to Clingmans Dome to experience the 360-degree view, but how does the view today compare to centuries ago? We really don't know, but we do know that haze, largely caused by air pollution, can greatly diminish your view.

Records show that during the last half of the 20th century the average distance it is possible to see decreased by about 40 percent in winter and 80 percent in summer.

For details about how air pollution impacts the Smokies-and about how you can help protect future air quality-ask at a visitor center.

On a typical hazy day (left), views can be disappointing. Distant features, like Pigeon Forge, are completely lost from view.

Air pollution in the Smoky Mountains (Map, right) comes mostly from the northwest and southwest, and sometimes from the east. Pollutants arrive from both local and distant sources. Weather patterns dictate how sources change over time.
 
 
Northern View Photo, Click for full size
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 18, 2011
7. Northern View
 
 
Eastern View Photo, Click for full size
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 18, 2011
8. Eastern View
On a clear day you can see Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the eastern United States, 73 miles (117km) away in North Carolina's Black Mountains. Can you see Mount Mitchell today? Clear days can allow views that exceed 100 miles (161km). On other days visibility can be cut drastically, either by clouds or by severe haze, which is caused mainly by pollution.

For decades visitors have enjoyed views from here on Clingmans Dome, the highest peak in the Smokies at 6,643 feet (2025m). This high point is names for Thomas Lanier Clingman, one of several explorers who studied and measured North Carolina's mountains in the 1850s.
 
 
Eastern View Photo, Click for full size
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 18, 2011
9. Eastern View
 
 
Southern View Photo, Click for full size
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 18, 2011
10. Southern View
Notice the forest that surrounds this tower. This is a spruce-fir forest, comprised mostly of red spruce (Picea rubens) and Fraser fir (Abies fraseri). It is a forest under stress. The dead trees you see are Fraser fir, victims of a European insect. Another threat, with far broader effects, comes from the air.

This park receives the highest sulfur and nitrogen deposits-from acid precipitation-found in any national park. It is most severe at higher elevations. The average acidity of rain and snow here is 5-10 times greater than natural precipitation. This acid fallout damages park soils, streams, plants, and animals.
 
 
Southern View Photo, Click for full size
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 18, 2011
11. Southern View
 
 
The Top of the Smokies Photo, Click for full size
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 18, 2011
12. The Top of the Smokies
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on June 27, 2011, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 233 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. submitted on June 27, 2011, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
 
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