Where to stay near Clingmans Dome, TN/NC

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Clingmans Dome is the top of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The soaring mountain on the Tennessee and North Carolina border offers unrivaled views of the Smokies. But where to stay near Clingmans Dome for the best experience?

The two towns closest to Clingmans Dome are Gatlinburg in the north and Cherokee in the south. These mountain towns offer similar access and are both great options for where to stay when visiting Clingmans Dome.

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Gatlinburg, TN

The inviting Tennessee town Gatlinburg is situated at the base of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Thanks to its convenient location Gatlinburg is known as the gateway to the Smokies.

From Gatlinburg, it’s 23 miles (37 km) to Clingmans Dome Trailhead. If traffic doesn’t let you down, and you can resist the temptation of stopping at the pullovers along the way, it’s a drive that takes 45 minutes.

For hotels near Clingmans Dome, no other northern Smokies town is as conveniently positioned.

Gatlinburg’s location also offers smooth access to several other popular Great Smoky Mountains attractions. The northern part of the Smokies presents an abundance of crowd pleasing sights.

Things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park up north include cruising down Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and discovering the once thriving, but for long forgotten, town of Elkmont.

Another big draw on the northern side of the park is Cades Cove: the valley that refuses to change with time. With a scenic loop road, historic cabins and several nice trails Cades Cove is like a park in a park.

It’s less than an hour by car from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove Loop Road, which makes it an easy day trip.

Another pro with Gatlinburg is its pleasant mountain ambience. The walkable heart of Gatlinburg is filled with tasty restaurants, quirky shops and an in general welcoming vibe.

Young or old, Gatlinburg is a fun place to stay near Clingmans Dome.

For rainy days the town’s own Ripley’s Aquarium is the perfect family-friendly attraction. In the neighboring Pigeon Forge you also find the celebrated theme park Dollywood and the fascinating Titanic Museum.

Pick Gatlinburg for: Best northern Clingmans Dome access.

Best hotels in Gatlinburg

Margaritaville Resort

Want the best of both worlds for your Clingmans Dome stay? Then Margaritaville Resort in Gatlinburg is an ideal place to park your car. At Margaritaville, you stay near the park but with top amenities, including appreciated swimming pools.

Marshall’s Creek Motel

For a more low-key place to stay near Clingmans Dome, Marshall’s Creek Motel ticks the important boxes. Central location in Gatlinburg, check. Rustic ambience that go hand in hand with the adjacent nature, check.

Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express presents a simple yet sought-after formula. It’s a modern option that has the main strip of Gatlinburg within steps and gives you fantastic access to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Gatlinburg tucked into the verdant Great Smoky Mountains
Gatlinburg, a town surrounded by mountains.

Cherokee, NC

The Tennessee side is the most popular part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But across the park North Carolina’s Cherokee is another great option for where to stay near Clingmans Dome.

It’s 26 miles (42 km) from Cherokee to Clingmans Dome. Just like when you drive from Gatlinburg, it’s roughly 45 minutes to Clingmans Dome Trailhead.

The proximity makes Cherokee the best place to stay near Clingmans Dome in the south.

Cherokee’s southern base also provides effortless passage to other Smokies spots. Although certainly less famous, there are gorgeous things to do on the southern side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well.

For water activites Fontana Lake, 17 miles (27 km) long and 440 feet (130 m) deep, offers space for everyone. Another prime southern spot is Tom Branch Falls, one of the prettiest waterfalls in the Smokies.

Off the park Cherokee is the southern end of the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On the parkway you never know what’s around the next turn.

But what you do know is that Asheville, just over an hour away, is a fun day trip from Cherokee. There the Biltmore Estate, against the backdroff of the Blue Ridge Mountains, welcomes you to America’s largest home.

Pick Cherokee for: Best southern Clingmans access.

Best hotels in Cherokee

Great Smokies Inn

If you want the Cherokee place to stay closest to Clingmans Dome, you don’t need to look further. Great Smokies Inn is brilliantly located where both Newfound Gap Road and the Blue Ridge Parkway end. With such a location, exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Clingmans Dome becomes effortless.

Rivers Edge Motel

Rivers Edge Motel is a motel with a special feature. It’s exceptionally positioned next to the soothing Oconaluftee River. So when you stay at Rivers Edge Motel, you never leave Great Smoky Mountains National Park mentally.

The Blue Ridge Parkway snaking through yellow and orange forest during fall
The Blue Ridge Parkway, leading to Cherokee.

Final words about where to stay near Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Smokies, beautifully shoots up towards the sky. With a height of 6,643 feet (2,025 m), it’s one of the most impressive vistas east of the Mississippi River.

Because of the mountain’s location in the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you have two main options for where to stay when visiting Clingmans Dome: north or south.

Stay up north in Gatlinburg if you like the idea of a town with a lot of activity, including attractions and restaurants. But for something quieter, Cherokee in the south gives you as convenient Clingmans Dome access.

Where to stay near Clingmans Dome FAQ

Where should I stay when visiting Clingmans Dome?

Clingmans Dome is positioned in the heart of the Smokies, which means that you have to count with a drive to get there. In the north, you find the hotels closest to Clingmans Dome in Gatlinburg. South of Clingmans Dome, you find the closest hotels in Cherokee. Both towns are popular options for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

How far is it from Gatlinburg to Clingmans Dome?

It’s 23 miles (37 km) from Tennessee’s Gatlinburg to Clingmans Dome Trailhead. Driving takes roughly 45 minutes, not including any stops along the way.

How far is it from Cherokee to Clingmans Dome?

It’s 26 miles (42 km) from North Carolina’s Cherokee to Clingmans Dome Trailhead. Without any stops along the way, driving takes about 45 minutes.

How long is the Clingmans Dome hike?

Clingmans Dome Road takes you to the Clingmans Dome parking lot. From there, a 0.5 miles (0.8 km) paved but steep trail leads you the final stretch to the very top of Clingmans Dome.

If weather is on your side, the observation tower at the end of the Clingmans Dome hike provides sweeping views of the surroundings. On a clear da,y the views from the observation tower expand more than 100 miles (160 km) in every direction.

What time should I go to Clingmans Dome?

Every season is impressive at Clingmans Dome, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park is always open. However, pay attention to that secondary roads in the Smokies are closed from roughly late November to early April.

Clingmans Dome Road, which takes you the final 7 miles (11 km) to Clingmans Dome Trailhead, is one of these secondary roads. Therefore check the Smoky Mountains road schedule if you plan on visiting Clingmans Dome around the winter season.

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