Get your camping reservations in place for the 2024 total solar eclipse on April 8 so you can experience this rare phenomenon as the moon crosses in front of the sun, plunging the U.S. into midday darkness. The path of totality will stretch across 13 states in the Eastern U.S., drawing an arched line from Texas to Maine.
A year goes by fast, and campground sites for big events quickly get booked. If you’re interested in seeing a stunning astronomical event from an optimal vantage point, then book your site soon (see below for timing).
The Path of Totality
You might remember the Great American Eclipse in August of 2017. In Missouri, my family was in the zone to experience a significant partial eclipse, with around 96 percent of the sun obscured. We didn’t travel to the zone of totality—which I greatly regretted after hearing how significant the difference was.
Some described the total eclipse as the pitch of night descending upon midday, with even the birds stopping their usual songs. The partial eclipse I experienced seemed more like someone threw a towel over a lamp. It was still a neat experience but stopped short of being the total ride.
In 2017, I vowed to travel to the path of totality for the next solar eclipse crossing my region, a mere seven years away. And now, here we are! I have decided where to camp and am ready to make my reservations on the day they open.
If you are within driving distance of the path of totality, it is worth traveling to it, as even a few percentage points of totality make a difference in the experience. The duration of the 2024 eclipse will be twice as long as 2017, with over four minutes of darkness experienced at locations in the direct path.
If you’d like to make an RV trip to the path of totality for the 2024 eclipse, here are some recommendations:
Where to Camp in Texas for the Total Eclipse of 2024
Texas will hold the record for the most options to view the 2024 eclipse since the huge state has a direct crossing. The total eclipse will make a diagonal line across central Texas, occurring between 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. CDT. Major cities in the pathway include San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Dallas, and Fort Worth. Visit one of the large towns, or venture into Texas Hill Country for a cultural treat. The April weather is also generally warmer in Texas than in the rest of the viewing area.
Texas Good Sam Campgrounds
Where to Camp in Arkansas and Oklahoma for the Total Eclipse of 2024
Arkansas’s central and northwest region will be in the path of totality around 1:30 to 2:00 p.m. CDT, crossing directly over the state capital of Little Rock. Nearby, Hot Springs National Park offers patches of woodlands and historic Bathhouse Row as focal points, besides the eclipse. The Buffalo National River region will also see skies darken over the turquoise waters. More than 50 Arkansas State Parks are in the zone of totality, including Petit Jean State Park, which has several scenic overlooks with wide-open views.
Where to Camp in Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky for the Total Eclipse of 2024
While much of Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky will not be in the zone of totality, the region where the three states meet will be. This region also experienced a total eclipse in 2017.
Missouri’s southwest corner includes gems like the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Echo Bluff State Park, and Elephant Rocks State Park, which are renowned for natural beauty. The town of Cape Girardeau and nearby Ste. Genevieve National Historic Park are in the pathway, with the town of Ste. Genevieve showcases a French Canadian heritage dating to the 1700s.
In Illinois, the path of totality will cross through the college town of Carbondale and the Shawnee National Forest. Explore the region’s wineries during your visit. A tiny portion of Kentucky will have total darkness in areas northwest of Paducah. Though Paducah will only experience 90 seconds of totality, visitors will find a lot to explore, including the historic downtown along the riverfront.
Where to Camp in Indiana and Ohio for the Total Eclipse of 2024
The path of totality will extend across the heart of Indiana, passing through Terre Haute, Bloomington, and Indianapolis, the state capital. Several of Indiana’s most popular state parks are in the path, including Turkey Run State Park, Brown County State Park, and Shakamak State Park.
In Ohio, you can combine your sky-watching with a national park visit at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. You’ll find restored natural respites intermixed with urban areas along the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. Cleveland will also plunge into total darkness around 3:15 pm CDT.
Where to Camp in New York and Pennsylvania for the Total Eclipse of 2024
New York will be one of the best camping spots for the total eclipse, as the path of totality crosses through popular tourist destinations. Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Rochester are right on path to have a lengthy eclipse around 3:20 EDT. Wide swaths of the Finger Lakes regions will be in the pathway. In the large Adirondacks region, the charming town of Lake Placid would be a good basecamp.
In Pennsylvania, Erie will be in the direct path, and you can watch Lake Erie descend into darkness at Presque Isle State Park.
Where to Camp in Vermont and Maine for the Total Eclipse of 2024
Eventually, the total eclipse will make its way out of the U.S. and across the Canadian border. It will also cross over Vermont and Maine. Camping in these New England states may be limited, as the early April weather is still chilly, with freezing temperatures possible. Look for year-round campgrounds or check the opening date when you are looking to book.
Burlington, Vermont will experience over three minutes of totality around 3:25 EDT, offering history and culture to explore along Lake Champlain.
In Maine, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument will be perfectly situated for viewing the total eclipse. Several state parks also make scenic spots for viewing nature and the eclipse, including Rangeley Lake State Park and Mount Kineo State Park.
How to Plan an RV Trip for the 2024 Total Eclipse
For the 2017 eclipse, thousands of people traveled to be in the path of totality, as evidenced by hotel bookings. The same could be true for 2024, which is why it’s important to think ahead if you’d like to make a camping excursion out of the event.
With the eclipse occurring on Monday, April 8, you may want to start your reservations for the Friday or Saturday before, so you can make a long weekend out of your travels. Luckily, the zone of totality is crossing over some already-great travel destinations. Depending on where you camp, you can head home after the event, or stay the night of April 8th.
While some campgrounds open reservations more than a year in advance, others open bookings 12 months ahead, meaning the closer to April 8, 2023, you can make your plans, the better. Some campgrounds open bookings six months in advance. For those, your goal would be to book around October of 2023. If you miss either window, check around, as you may still find openings closer to the event.
Then, all you need to do is to find some solar eclipse glasses—so you can safely watch—and grab a blanket or some camp chairs. Locate a good spot to sit with an open view of the sky, and be prepared for an experience like no other, one that won’t happen again in the U.S. until 2045.