Clingmans Dome Sunset Detail

Clingmans Dome Sunset Detail

The mountain ridges to the south of Clingmans Dome at sunset

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that one of my favorite places in the world is Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I can’t really explain my attraction to the place, but it is truly special to me. I usually drive to the park from the North Carolina side. Somewhere between Dillsboro and Cherokee, I usually get my first great look at the mountains of the Smokies. I can’t explain the feeling, but my stomach flips a bit and I just get happy.

That feeling is usually amplified as I drive into the park and up the mountain. All of my familiar haunts and favorite image locations pass by and I recall moments waiting for great light and just soaking in beautiful scenes. Occasionally, I’ll stop at one or two of these even though the light isn’t great. I just enjoy the vistas and views that much.

One of my two favorite sunset locations is at the top of the mountain, Clingmans Dome. The views from here are spectacular anytime, but especially at sunset. The only obvious manmade object in view is Fontana Lake and it blends in naturally with the landscape. This is my favorite place to shoot the ridges and valleys of the Blue Ridge. Depending on the time of day and season, they can be full of color or only silhouettes. My favorite image is late in the day when the valleys are disappearing into shadow and brilliant soft light dances above.

That is the case with this image. The sunset turned the sky a soft pinkish orange. The ridges hung below with a hint of green still left on their flanks. I’ve captured many images like this one, but I never tire of looking at them. I hope you enjoy them as well.

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