Best parks to watch the solar eclipse, solar eclipse

Experience the Solar Eclipse in these National Parks

You may have heard that the sun is going to play a little game of hide-and-seek with the United States next Monday, August 21st, and pretty much anyone who knows anything about the night sky is freaking out!

Um, I’m not freaking out. Why is this so important?

This isn’t any old eclipse of the sun; it’s a total eclipse. Like a total eclipse of the heart—but much cooler. That means the path of the moon will perfectly intersect with the path of the sun, either partially or fully blocking the sun from view, depending on your location. All you’ll be able to see is a beautiful dancing halo of light—the solar corona.

And it’s rare. Like, really rare. Once-in-a-lifetime rare. The last total eclipse to be seen from coast-to-coast was in 1918.

Ok, this could be cool. Where can I watch it?

You need to place yourself in the coveted “path of totality” to see the total solar eclipse. The path stretches from northern Oregon to central South Carolina and is 70 miles wide. If you’re in this path, excellent! Make sure to go outside next Monday and check out this natural phenomenon. If you’re not in this path, you have a week to get there!

Obviously, the best place in our opinion to watch the solar eclipse is inside of a national park. It makes perfect sense—you can spend the weekend camping under the stars and scoping out the best vantage point with little light pollution. And you may even get to see how the natural world responds to the sun’s disappearance for those few minutes. Will the birds stop singing? Will the elk stop grazing? Will the crickets wake from their slumber?

The National Park Service created an especially handy map of national parks in the “path of totality.”

Best parks to watch the solar eclipse, solar eclipse

If you’re in Oregon and are only interested in a day trip, the place to go is John Day Fossil Beds. Parking lots and viewing areas open at 6 a.m., giving you plenty of time to park and walk to your destination.

Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming is expecting eclipse day to be the busiest day in the history of the park. That’s huge! And it means that you should definitely spend a long weekend camping to ensure you’re settled into your viewing point instead of fighting all the congestion on the roads.

For midwesterners (especially kids!), Homestead National Monument in Nebraska has a weekend jam-packed with eclipse activities! From NASA presentations to dance troupe performances to Bill Nye the Science Guy, Homestead will be the place to spend the weekend.

The entire western half of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee will fall under the path of totality for the eclipse, providing ample opportunities for viewing. In particular, Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, and Oconaluftee will have ongoing public viewing events.

Last but not least, South Carolina is celebrating the eclipse at Congaree National Park. There will be Science & Shadows programs throughout the weekend, plus guided hikes during the eclipse.

If all this eclipse stuff has made you want to turn your head toward the stars, check out 101 Amazing Sights of the Night Sky from Adventure Publications.

For more fun posts about the eclipse and other natural wonders, sign up for the Wilderness Press newsletter.


Tanya Twerdowsky

I am a Jersey girl living in Alabama who loves to run far and eat lots.

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