Clingman's Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park can claim some impressive superlatives. At 6,643 feet, the area is not just the highest point in the park and in the state of Tennessee, it's also the third-highest point in the country east of the Mississippi River. If you enjoy a long-range view, this is the only location in any national park which offers the potential to see into parts of seven different states…but only if the visibility is exceptionally good.
Last summer the park opened an information center at Clingmans Dome, making it the highest elevation national park visitor center in the eastern U.S. The location is also one of the most heavily-visited sites in the popular park, and officials are looking for some volunteer help to staff the visitor contact station, which opens for the season on April 1.
The building, which dates back to the Civilian Conservation Corps era, was renovated and converted into a seasonal information center in 2010. It also houses a bookstore/sales area managed by Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA), which funded the renovation project.
According to a park spokesperson, "The center sits at an elevation of 6,300 feet and will be a point source of information on the national park, in general, and on this high elevation spruce-fir ecosystem in particular. Volunteers are needed to assist in educating visitors about the Park and providing recreational and trip planning information and directions to other destinations."
The facility also offers a number of other helpful services, including the ability to purchase guides and maps, outdoor apparel, and other quality products sold by GSMA. “The Association is a significant partner and so are our volunteers. Their volunteer assistance at this location will go a long way in helping Association staff provide essential services to the public,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson.
Volunteers will be working alongside GSMA employees and each volunteer is asked to work at least one 4-hour shift per week at the information desk and roving the trail to the Dome Tower. The hours will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April – November.
Anyone interested in taking part in this opportunity must attend one of two 5-hour orientation and training sessions which will be given March 10 at the Sugarlands Training Room near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and March 19 at the Waynesville Library in Waynesville, North Carolina. If you'd like to register for the training or get more information, contact the Oconaluftee Visitor Center at (828) 497-1904.