If you haven’t already made travel and camping plans for the total solar eclipse of 2024, time is of the essence! During this rare phenomenon, daytime will seemingly change into night for a few minutes in 13 states stretching from Texas to Maine. The following FAQ will help you decide where to camp for the best eclipse experience.
When Will the Total Eclipse of 2024 Take Place?
The total eclipse will take place on April 8 in the early afternoon hours. Texas will experience the eclipse around 1p.m. Central Time, while Maine will see the eclipse around 3:20 p.m. Eastern Time. Although the total eclipse will last only a few minutes at most, many locations will experience several hours of a partial eclipse.
If you’re camping, make sure to note that April 8 is a Monday, giving you the perfect chance for an extended weekend stay. Depending on where you camp, you may need a reservation for the evening of the 8th; otherwise, you might have to check out of your campground before the eclipse.
Where Are the Best Locations to See the Eclipse?
The total eclipse will be visible in parts of these 13 states, primarily in the Central and Eastern U.S.: Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. It will also be experienced in parts of Central Mexico and Eastern Canada.
The Great American Eclipse website has a map showing where the path of totality will cross the United States. Additionally, the site shows how long the partial and total eclipse will last in several major cities.
What’s the Path of Totality?
The path of totality includes the locations where the moon will fully pass over the sun (the site indicates the path of totality in every state that will be affected). At the center of the path, the total eclipse may darken the world for over four minutes. As you get to the outer edges of the path, the full darkness will only last for a minute.
The partial eclipse will be visible in a much broader swath of the United States. In these locations, the moon will not fully block the sun. Instead of total darkness, the light will be more like late evening. The eclipse is described in percentages, and the closer to 100 percent you are, the darker it will be.
If you can travel to the path of totality, it is worth the effort since there is a significant difference in the experience. The eerie change to complete darkness only happens in the path of totality.
How Can You Make Camping Reservations for the Eclipse of 2024?
With the eclipse crossing 13 states, there are ample camping locations. The first thing you must decide is whether you’d like to camp in the path of totality or in an area with a partial eclipse. Then, decide which state to target, depending on how far you’d like to travel and how much of an experience you’d like to have.
After checking the maps to find a location, use Good Sam to search for campgrounds and RV parks nearby. Many state and national parks likely filled when reservations opened, but private campgrounds are more likely to have openings, especially in areas experiencing a partial eclipse.
You may find increased prices or requirements for the length of your stay at many campgrounds for the Eclipse weekend. Reservations may also be non-refundable. This special event is driving a lot of interest, so don’t be surprised if you encounter special conditions for your stay.
Where Can You Camp for the 2024 Total Eclipse?
Here is a brief overview of where the eclipse will best be experienced in each of the 13 states. For more details, check out Where to Camp for the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.
South and Central States
- Eclipse Camping in Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park is one of two national parks in the path of totality. Arkansas’s Buffalo National River and Ouachita Mountains regions promise to be especially scenic. Or, head to the state capital of Little Rock.
- Eclipse Camping in Kentucky: Much of the state will miss the total eclipse, but you can head to the Paducah region to experience it.
- Eclipse Camping in Missouri: The Show-Me State’s best show will be found in Southeast Missouri, with beautiful locations found in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways and the town of Ste. Genevieve.
- Eclipse Camping in Oklahoma: The total eclipse will be visible in small towns and rural regions in Southeast Oklahoma, while Tulsa and Oklahoma City will see a significant partial eclipse.
- Eclipse Camping in Texas: The total eclipse will be visible in much of central Texas, including the major cities of Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Waco, and Fort Worth, as well as the popular Hill Country region.
- Eclipse Camping in Illinois: Southern Illinois will be in the path of totality. Carbondale is practically dead center for seeing the longest period of darkness in the state. The Shawnee National Forest region would also be a scenic spot.
- Eclipse Camping in Indiana: Much of Indiana should get a good show, with the cities of Indianapolis, Terre Haute, and Bloomington being in the path of totality. Several popular state parks will offer beautiful scenery along with the eclipse.
- Eclipse Camping in Ohio: Cuyahoga Valley National Park is the other national park in the path of totality. Much of Ohio, including many large cities, will experience the full eclipse, including Cleveland, Akron, and Dayton.
- Eclipse Camping in Maine: The eclipse will miss Maine’s largest cities, but much of the beautiful woodlands and mountains of northern Maine will plunge into darkness, particularly near Moosehead Lake and Mount Katahdin.
- Eclipse Camping in New Hampshire: Head to the North Country for the best viewing in New Hampshire, as the total eclipse will pass over the northern tip of the state.
- Eclipse Camping in New York: Some of Upstate New York’s most scenic locales will be treated to a full eclipse, including Niagara Falls, the northern Finger Lakes region, and the Adirondack Mountains. The cities of Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo are also included.
- Eclipse Camping in Pennsylvania: The Keystone State will mostly experience a partial eclipse, other than in the northernmost portion of Western Pennsylvania, near Erie. Many parks along Lake Erie will offer a lovely landscape for the experience.
- Eclipse Camping in Vermont: The northern portion of Vermont will be in the path of totality, including the towns of Burlington and Montpelier. Many scenic spots are found in the mountains.
What if You Can’t Get Reservations for Camping During the Eclipse?
It might be too late to get reservations about popular parks and destinations but don’t give up. Check for cancellations closer to the eclipse. You may luck into a last-minute spot. Or consider camping outside the path of totality and driving to it for the day.
Also, if you are close enough to make a day trip to a location within the path of totality, the midday timing may make such a trip easy to accomplish. Many states and cities have eclipse websites with information about special events.
What Do I Need to See the Eclipse?
The first rule of an eclipse is to never look at the eclipse. Does that mean this is a lot of hoopla for nothing? Not quite! First, you will experience the darkness of the eclipse without looking directly at the sun. The shift from light to darkness is a unique experience. Plus, if you are in the path of totality, you may look at the sun when (and only when) it is fully covered by the moon.
Additionally, there are multiple ways to actually “view” the eclipse. You may find special eclipse glasses. Many locations in the path of the eclipse will have these widely available at convenience stores. Check with chambers of commerce, parks, and local businesses.
You may also create a pinhole projector using a box and other simple supplies. These allow a tiny bit of light to create an image of the moon eclipsing the sun. The full circle of the sun will get smaller and smaller and become a crescent before disappearing entirely in the path of totality.
Where Will You Experience the Eclipse?
I wasn’t swift enough to snag reservations at the state park where I hope to view the eclipse, so I’ll either make it a day trip or camp somewhere between my home and the path of totality. For the 2017 solar eclipse, I was in an area that had a 96 percent eclipse. While it was neat, I still hope to get the full experience in 2024!
With these tips in mind, you will be well on your way to experiencing the great solar eclipse of 2024. Where do you plan to go for this special event?