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  1. #1
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    Default Clingmans Parking

    A recent thread on Smoky Mountain N P mentioned paarking at Clingman's Dome for section hikes in the park both north and then south. Is it permitted to do so? It is not mentioned as trailhead parking on AWOL though New Found Gap is listed as parking.

  2. #2

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    I suppose you could. It gets you 8-10 miles closer to points south vs starting at the gap. Or puts you 8-10 miles farther from the gap if going north. I think most people would just park at the gap.
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    Depending on when you want to park, itís closed in the winter, just so you know. Long ago, we parked there for our second backpack trip ever, so cutting off the mileage from Newfound was kind of important. They may have changed the rules, but itís a big parking lot and does give hikers more opportunities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PGH1NC View Post
    A recent thread on Smoky Mountain N P mentioned paarking at Clingman's Dome for section hikes in the park both north and then south. Is it permitted to do so? It is not mentioned as trailhead parking on AWOL though New Found Gap is listed as parking.
    I would suggest Newfound Gap.

    If you park at Clingman's Dome, the parking lot is about 400' lower than the trail. So when hiking north AND when hiking south you do that extra 400'. If you park at Newfound Gap, the trail is at the parking lot and at the same level. You have a long climb up to Clingman's Dome when going south, but you only do that once. It might be tempting to think that it's easier to start at Clingman's Dome because it is the highest point, but in the end, the elevation change is probably a total wash. Newfound Gap is easier to get to, closer to the trail, less likely to be closed, and makes just as good of a starting point for the two hikes as Clingman's Dome.

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    Clingmans Dome parking is often used for trips in the back country. So long as you have your hiking permit, it won't be an issue parking there.

    As already meantioned, the road between New Found Gap and Clingmans Dome is officially closed for the winter between 12/01 and 03/31 (however during times of warm weather, the road might be open early in the season).

    While it is true that the parking lot is 1/2 a half mile and a couple hundred feet in elevation change, there is enough other up and down following the AT as toake this negligible.

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    As a ridgerunner I frequently parked there for my work, leaving the car there for 5 days. The back country office (BCO)likes to be notified about that and will ask for your licence plate but it is no issue to park there (or at least it wasn't back then). You should call the BCO, they are very helpful with those things.

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    Clingman's Dome parking lot will FILL UP during popular times. Off season, morning, and later afternoon are probably good. Worst case, you might have to wait for someone to leave so you can take their space.

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    Clingman's Dome parking lot will FILL UP during popular times. Off season, morning, and later afternoon are probably good. Worst case, you might have to wait for someone to leave so you can take their space.
    Yes that can happen, however the spots do turn over quickly as many are there just to go up to the tower, take some selfies, and back, maybe a stop in the gift shop, total distance 1 mile, so one might have a short delay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    As a ridgerunner I frequently parked there for my work, leaving the car there for 5 days. The back country office (BCO)likes to be notified about that and will ask for your licence plate but it is no issue to park there (or at least it wasn't back then). You should call the BCO, they are very helpful with those things.
    You list your license plate number when you get your permit. The only reason to contact the back country office is if you plan to have your car parked in the national park for longer than your permit (such as if you continued hiking along the AT for a few days... say if you continued north to got springs).

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    Thanks for the information and suggestions. I ws trying to spread out the daily mileages a bit by considering either trailhead.
    I hadn't considered the extra elevation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PGH1NC View Post
    Thanks for the information and suggestions. I ws trying to spread out the daily mileages a bit by considering either trailhead.
    I hadn't considered the extra elevation.
    The extra elevation is trivial, I'd ignore that. I'd also stress the point made above regarding crowds. I suggest you not underestimate the PITA factor of trying to park there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleolith54 View Post
    The extra elevation is trivial, I'd ignore that. I'd also stress the point made above regarding crowds. I suggest you not underestimate the PITA factor of trying to park there.
    If you are arriving before 10:00am, you shouldn't have a problem finding a parking spot.

    By contrast, I've been leaving Clingmans Dome after lunch on a Columbus Day weekend in October and traffic was stop and go for over 1/2 before reaching the parking lot.

    Something else not used very often is a side parking lot at a saddle about two miles from Clingmans Dome. From this parking lot of about 10 spaces, that is generally only uses by people who pull over for the view (there is no trailhead here) if you walk about 100 yards towards Clingmans Dome, looked for where the surrounding ground on the TN side is coming up to meet the road and begin to climb above it. At this point, the AT is only a simple 30' bush whack (that doesn't require any whacking) from the road.

    I've used this spot a few times for hiking loops that include the AT and Niland Divide trail (about a 3/4 mile walk from this saddle to the trail).

  13. #13

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    It is very common for that parking area to fill up and for people to park along the road. It would be rude and inappropriate to park there overnight. I get the ďI was here first so I have the right to...Ē blah blah blah. But donít do it. Newfound Gap would be the place to leave a car.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    It is very common for that parking area to fill up and for people to park along the road. It would be rude and inappropriate to park there overnight. I get the “I was here first so I have the right to...” blah blah blah. But don’t do it. Newfound Gap would be the place to leave a car.
    I totally disagree...

    You can discuss the merits of parking at Clingman's Dome v. Newfound Gap.
    You can say "Clingman's Dome is crowded and it would be NICE if you can park someplace less crowded with doesn't significantly interfere with your hiking plans".

    But I find it rude and inappropriate to effectively claim day hikers have more right to the Clingman's Dome parking lot than back country hikers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    I totally disagree...

    You can discuss the merits of parking at Clingman's Dome v. Newfound Gap.
    You can say "Clingman's Dome is crowded and it would be NICE if you can park someplace less crowded with doesn't significantly interfere with your hiking plans".

    But I find it rude and inappropriate to effectively claim day hikers have more right to the Clingman's Dome parking lot than back country hikers.
    Particularly when the number of backcountry hikers is probably just a handful. Eliminating their use of the lot does nothing to relieve congestion.

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    It would be rude and inappropriate to park there overnight. I get the “I was here first so I have the right to...” blah blah blah. But don’t do it. Newfound Gap would be the place to leave a car.



    it's a public parking area...........

    anyone, anytime (at least when the road/parking area is open) is allowed to park there.....

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