Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower will be closed beginning today, August 23rd, through the remainder of the 2017 season to complete rehabilitation work thanks to funding received from a Partners in Preservation (PIP) grant. The $250,000 grant was awarded last summer 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 in 2016.
While visitors will not be able to climb the tower for views out over the surrounding tree tops, the Clingmans Dome parking overlook will be open and offers outstanding mountain top views. The visitor contact station and store, the trail to the tower, and all access to the trailheads in the vicinity will remain open, including the trail to Andrews Bald. Visitors should expect some construction traffic in the vicinity of the contact station and along the trail.
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 he park website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/clingmansdome.htm.
About Partners in Preservation: Partners in Preservation is a program in which American Express, in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, awards preservation grants to historic places across the country. Since 2006, Partners in Preservation, a community-based partnership, has committed $16 million in preservation funding to nearly 200 diverse sites in eight different cities across the country.
Through this partnership, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation seek to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of historic preservation in the United States and to preserve America’s historic and cultural places. The program also hopes to inspire long-term support from local citizens for the historic places at the heart of their communities.