A Quick Primer On Eclipsing The National Parks

The following parks will be in, or close to, totality for Monday’s solar eclipse/NPS file

Here is a quick overview of some of the National Park System units that are along the path of Monday’s total solar eclipse, according to the National Park Service. 

Buffalo National River, Arkansas

As the eclipse passes over the United States it will cross the state of Arkansas, including a vast majority of Buffalo National River. 

Buffalo National River will be in the path of totality as the moon passes in front of the sun, casting a shadow on Earth. A partial eclipse of the sun will begin at approximately 12:34 p.m. local time. The sun will be completely covered by the moon at approximately 1:52 p.m. and last for about 3 ½ minutes in peak areas. All phases of the eclipse will end by 3:12 p.m. 

Buffalo National River is anticipating high amounts of traffic and visitation during the days leading up to and after the eclipse. If you are planning to experience this celestial phenomenon from within the park or in one of the surrounding communities, be sure to plan ahead and be prepared. 

Some reminders and tips to consider: 

  • The Tyler Bend and Dillards Ferry areas will have the most parking and some of the longest totality. 

  • Allow extra time for traveling in the area and carpool if possible.  

  • Keep all vehicles on maintained roadways or parking lots. Do not park on roads or block lanes of travel.  

  • No camping is allowed within a half-mile of any developed area unless it is in a designated campsite. 

  • The maximum number of people per individual campsite is six, and for group sites is 25.  

  • Saving campsites is prohibited and all campsites must be occupied nightly.  

  • Do not leave equipment or other belongings behind and pack out your trash or dispose of trash in proper receptacles.  

  • Research the local communities surrounding the park for services, businesses, and activities that will be offered.  

  • Practice Leave No Trace principles.  

“Buffalo National River is very excited to be within the path of totality during the eclipse,” said Superintendent Angela Boyers. “We welcome all visitors to the park during this exciting time and hope that everyone enjoys the recreational opportunities that America’s First National River has to offer.”  

Thanks to generous park partners, Buffalo National River Partners, solar-safe viewing glasses will be available at the Tyler Bend and Buffalo Point contact stations starting Saturday while supplies last. One solar viewer per visitor. 

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

In preparation for the solar eclipse, Cuyahoga Valley National Park will close the following parking lots at sunset (8 p.m. local time) on Sunday and re-open at sunrise (7 a.m.) on Monday:  

  • Boston Mill Visitor Center
  • Canal Exploration Center
  • Crow Foot Gully
  • Happy Days Lodge (south of Rt. 303)
  • Hines Hill Center
  • Ledges Shelter
  • Little Meadow
  • Octagon Shelter 
  • Pine Hollow
  • Station Road Bridge Trailhead
  • Kendall Lake  

The following parking lots will close at 8 p.m. Sunday, remain closed for the day Monday and will re-open at 8 p.m.: 

  • Boston Trailhead
  • Boston Store limited mobility lot
  • Brandywine Falls (parking lot only, Brandywine Falls accessible via Stanford Trail or Bike & Hike Trail)  

Refer to the CVNP map for locations.  

“If you live in the area, your home or neighborhood is where you’ll have the ‘best seat in the house’ for eclipse viewing,” said Cuyahoga Valley Superintendent Lisa Petit. “We are doing our best to be prepared and we are looking forward to welcoming unusually high numbers of visitors. If you are traveling to CVNP, we have some suggestions to help you plan a safe and enjoyable experience”.   

The park asks those planning to come to Cuyahoga Valley for the eclipse to considering the following: 

  • Plan for a long day and visit the park website before heading out
  • Come early, stay late. Consider staying for a hike after the eclipse. 
  • Download the NPS app ahead of time and save Cuyahoga Valley information for offline use. 
  • Consider carpooling and have a full tank of gas or charge for your vehicle. 
  • Park in official spaces only. Parking lots will close when they are full.
  • Pack it in, Pack it out. Consider taking your trash with you when you leave, as facilities may be overwhelmed. 
  • Be aware that emergency response could be delayed due to traffic.  

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, Ohio

In celebration of the total solar eclipse, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park will host watch parties at several locations on Monday. Total solar eclipse will occur at 3:10 p.m. local time. Park Rangers will distribute safe solar eclipse viewing glasses to attendees free of charge at each watch party. The first 300 attendees at each watch party will receive a 2024 eclipse patch. All the events are free and open to the public.

The Wright-Dunbar Watch Party will kick off at 16 S. Williams St., Dayton, Ohio from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Activities include NASA livestream in the theater, presentations from NASA SCoPE subject matter experts, an Eclipse Junior Ranger activity, solar eclipse painting, live viewing of total solar eclipse with Unistellar smart telescopes hosted by SETI/Unistellar astronomer Dr. Ian Weaver, and other art and educational activities for children and adults. The event will occur on the plaza and the park information tent will have free solar eclipse viewing glasses and a LightSound set up for the blind and low vision community.

The Wright Memorial Watch Party will occur at 2380 Memorial Rd., Wright-Patterson Air Force Base from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Activities include NASA livestream in the theater, an Eclipse Junior Ranger activity, exhibits on the Wright brothers and the history of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The event will occur on the Wright Memorial grounds so please bring a blanket and chairs to set up your own viewing space. Rangers on site will have a LightSound set up for the blind and low vision community and will pass out free solar eclipse viewing glasses.

The Huffman Prairie Flying Field Watch Party will occur at the 1905 Replica Hangar site at Huffman Prairie from 1 p.m. — 4:30 p.m. This location is accessed at Gate 16A off Rt. 444, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The event will include free eclipse glasses and an Eclipse Junior Ranger activity. Take a hike at Huffman Prairie or explore the field where the Wright brothers discovered practical flight. This watch party is for those that would like to experience safe eclipse viewing without all the crowds.

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Texas

Rangers at Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park anticipate Saturday, Sunday, and Monday could be some of the busiest in park history. Visitors to the park on those days can expect some changes to normal park operations and should understand that access to the park will be limited at times by available parking.

The national park is comprised of two visitor areas separated by 14 miles: Johnson City and the LBJ Ranch. If visiting on Saturday and Sunday:

  • In Johnson City the national park visitor center will be open, however there will be no tours of President Johnson’s Boyhood Home. Visitors are welcome to walk the grounds of the Boyhood Home and the Johnson Settlement where the president’s grandparents lived.
  • A modified driving tour route at the LBJ Ranch will allow visits to President Johnson’s Reconstructed Birthplace and the Family Cemetery. Free driving permits and directions are available at the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site on Highway 290. The Junction School, where the president attended at age four, and the ranch Showbarn will be closed. The Texas White House Complex remains closed as rehabilitation work continues. The altered route will take drivers to the LBJ Ranch airstrip where programs are planned to highlight President Johnson’s impact on space exploration and educate about solar eclipses. Complete program information can be found by visiting www.nps.gov/lyjo/eclipse2024.

If visiting on Monday, the day of the eclipse:

  • The visitor center exhibits and Boyhood Home in Johnson City will be closed. The visitor center restrooms will be open for those enjoying the eclipse in Johnson City.
  • The modified driving tour route at the LBJ Ranch will be in effect with eclipse viewing taking place from the airstrip.

For all three days, visitation at the LBJ Ranch will be on a first come first serve basis. The entrance gate will open at 9 a.m. Parking will be limited to the paved airstrip; no roadside parking will be allowed.

No reservations will be taken, and once parking has reached capacity, access to the LBJ Ranch will be restricted. 

Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York

On Monday as the eclipse passes over the United States it will cross upstate New York, with its edge passing through the center of Rome. Because of Rome’s location at the edge of this unique phenomenon, there are two viewing options visitors can choose from: a Total Eclipse or a Solar Flare Eclipse. Accordingly, the City of Rome, Jervis Public Library, Rome Connected Community Schools, and Fort Stanwix National Monument will be co-hosting two separate viewing parties. 

The Total Eclipse viewing party will be held from 2:30 p.m.— 4:30 p.m. local time at Guyer Field in Rome. The Solar Flare Eclipse viewing party will take place from 1 p.m. — 4:30 p.m. on the grounds of Fort Stanwix National Monument. Peak totality for both locations will occur between 3:10 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. All eclipse activities are free and open to the public with no tickets or reservations required. Both park parties will feature science activity stations, Solar Eclipse Junior Ranger activity books, outdoor games, and library book stations. All are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs, blankets, or picnic equipment to enjoy the event with. Additionally, the Fort Stanwix visitor center will be open throughout the event and will have solar eclipse and park related memorabilia for sale.   

The City of Rome is anticipating high amounts of traffic and visitation during the days leading up to and after the eclipse. If you are planning to experience this celestial phenomenon from within the parks or in one of the surrounding communities, be sure to plan ahead and be prepared. Parking on city streets is free of charge. The Jervis Library sits between both viewing locales and will have free parking available for those willing to walk to the viewing locations. For those requiring handicapped accessible parking, please look for signage near your chosen location on the day of the event. Participants are advised to arrive early to prepare for the viewing.

Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park, South Carolina

The partial solar eclipse will be visible from Charleston beginning roughly at 2 p.m. local time on Monday. At 3 p.m. a ranger-guided talk and viewing of the eclipse will take place at the Fort Moultrie Visitor Center. There is a $10 site fee per adult and children 15 years old and under are free.  

The solar eclipse will cross Central and North America and is the second recent eclipse: an annular solar eclipse passed through the area in 2023. Safety glasses will be provided to safely view the eclipse. The program will focus on how eclipses happen and will explore historical eclipses seen in Charleston. The program will end after the eclipse reaches its maximum coverage of 70 percent for the Charleston area. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina/Tennessee

On Monday a total solar eclipse will be visible across a swath of the United States stretching from Texas to Maine. Great Smoky Mountains National Park lies outside the path of totality but will experience an 86-87 percent obstruction of the sun during the event.

A total eclipse is lineup of the sun, the moon, and Earth. The moon will be directly between the sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth. A total eclipse occurs when the moon covers the entirety of the sun except for the corona, or sun’s atmosphere. In the Smokies, viewers will experience a partial eclipse, when the moon only partially blocks the sun. In the national park, the moon will begin its intersection of the sun’s orbit at 1:49 p.m., the obstruction will reach its maximum extent at 3:08 p.m., and the event will conclude at 4:23 p.m. 

Viewing a solar eclipse without proper eye protection is dangerous and can result in long-term vision impairment or blindness. Regular sunglasses—no matter how dark—are not safe for viewing the eclipse. To ensure safe viewing, park staff will make available one free pair of glasses per family/group at the viewing locations listed below while supplies last. If visitors wish to have enough glasses for everyone in their group to view the eclipse at the same time, they will need to bring eclipse glasses along or purchase them. The park’s retail partner Smokies Life will have solar eclipse available for sale ($1.50 each) at park store locations.

Park staff and volunteers will be available to provide eclipse information and safe, facilitated viewing at the following locations from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.:

A Junior Ranger Eclipse Explorer activity book will be available for free at the above locations for anyone who wants to earn a Junior Ranger Eclipse Explorer badge.

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park anticipates large crowds and heavy traffic in the days before, during, and after the eclipse on Monday. Starting Thursday, April 4, and extending through Monday, April 8, the park will host special events and community programs, and implement select road closures to ensure visitor safety and resource protection.  

Special Events 
April 4 – 7, 2024 

Even though totality will last just a few minutes, visitors will have many opportunities to participate in special events in the days leading up to the Eclipse. Park rangers are working with scientists from NASA, NOAA, and Earth to Sky to coordinate fun events, programs, and presentations throughout the community. These programs are all free, family-friendly, and open to the public. Learn more about space weather, ongoing NASA research, the impact of eclipses on Earth, eclipse dynamics, and more. Additionally, the park is hosting a 2-day “Eclipse Fest!” on Arlington Lawn with interactive activities, demonstrations, and presentations from the visiting scientists.  

Monday, April 8 
9 a.m. — 3:30 p.m. 
Eclipse Timeline 

12:32 p.m.  Partial Eclipse begins

During this phase, you can only look at the sun with proper solar viewers! Using your naked eye or sunglasses could result in long term eye damage. 

Placing your solar viewers on your cellphones or cameras for photos is not recommended. Make sure you have the right viewer for photographing and magnification. 

1:49 p.m.  Totality begins

This is the only time it is safe to look directly at the sun without solar viewers!  

1:53 p.m. Totality ends 

Time to put your solar viewers back on! 

3:10 p.m.  Partial Eclipse ends 

Eclipse Viewing Locations 

Hot Springs National Park has designated three locations within the park boundaries as official viewing locations for the eclipse. These locations are Arlington Lawn, the Hot Springs Mountain Tower Parking Lot, and the West Mountain Summit Overlook.  

Starting at 9 a.m. park rangers, along with NASA and NOAA scientists, will be at each station providing demonstrations and information about different ways to experience the eclipse through sound, touch, feeling, and sight. There is limited space at each of these viewing locations. Visitors are encouraged to bring water, snacks, blankets (for Arlington Lawn), and camp chairs (for the mountains).  

Road Closures & Shuttles to Hot Springs Mountain and West Mountain Summits 
April 7 – 8 
Saturday, April 6 10 p.m. 

West Mountain Drive, West Mountain Summit Road, and Blacksnake Road will be closed to vehicular traffic to ensure emergency vehicles have access to different parts of town throughout the weekend and during the eclipse on Monday. Whittington Avenue will remain open.

Sunday, April 7 6 p.m.

Hot Springs Mountain Drive will close to vehicular traffic on Sunday after the Mountain Tower closes for the day and will remain closed through Monday.  

Monday, April 8 8 a.m. — 4:30 p.m. 

Free shuttles will run every 20-30 minutes to the top of Hot Springs and West Mountain. Shuttles will take people to designated drop off points until each mountain has reached its capacity. The last shuttle down will be at 4:30 p.m.  

Shuttle Stops – April 8 

Pick up for Hot Springs Mountain and North Mountain will be at the Happy Hollow Jug Fountain on Fountain Street. Please note that the city will close Fountain Street to through traffic. Visitors will need to walk up Fountain Street to the shuttle pick up. The drop off points on the mountain will be at the Hot Springs Mountain Picnic Area and the North Mountain Stone Shelter.  

Pick up for West Mountain will be at the intersection of Prospect Ave. and West Mountain Dr. and at the intersection of Whittington Ave. and West Mountain Dr. Drop off points on the mountain will be at the West Mountain Stone Shelter and the West Mountain Summit Overlook.  

Restrooms, water, and viewing space is limited at both Hot Springs Mountain and West Mountain. Please be prepared by bringing camp chairs, water, food, and any other necessary supplies. Note that any items you bring must be able to fit with you on the shuttle bus. Please help keep the park clean and pack out everything that you bring in and dispose of trash in appropriate receptacles.  

Fordyce Bathhouse Temporary Closure 

On Monday the Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center will close around 1:30 p.m. to ensure that everyone has time to get outside to witness the total eclipse at 1:49 p.m. The Fordyce will reopen at 2 p.m. Rangers and volunteers will be available with park information and maps, and the bathhouse museum will be available for self-guided tours. 

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Maine

The weather in April is unpredictable in this region of Maine. Over the past five years, the temperature on April 8th has been anywhere from 28°- 60°F. This means that the conditions of monument can range from snowy, icy, or very muddy from snowmelt. Check weather.gov for more specific information on northern Maine to help you plan for the total eclipse. 

  • Route 159 to Grand Lake Road takes you to the northern section of the monument. The North Gate will be closed. The only parking area available during this time is at the North Gate parking lot. Visitors will have to travel by foot past the North Gate.
  • Route 11 to Swift Brook Road is the route to the southern section of the monument. It also brings you to the the Loop Road. Swift Brook Road and gates are privately owned. The Swift Brook Road gates have been closed and locked to prevent road damage during “mud season.”
  • American Thread Road is the access point to the Seboeis Parcel. This road is not maintained during the winter. Depending on weather, it may either be too snowy, icy or muddy to travel very far.

Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana

Solar eclipse fever has hit Indiana Dunes National Park as the region will experience a 95 percent eclipse of the sun. Join National Park Service staff, the Friends of Indiana Dunes, and park volunteers as the park hosts an informal viewing party from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Monday at West Beach. The eclipse will take place from 12:51 p.m. to 3:22 p.m., peaking around 2:08 p.m. Meet at the contact station in the West Beach parking lot. Staff recommends you bring a chair or blanket for your comfort. A limited number of Eclipse Safety Glasses and Junior Ranger Eclipse Explorer booklets will be available on a first-come first served basis. Come prepared with your own glasses so you can safely observe this special event.

The last time a solar eclipse crossed the United States from coast-to-coast was in 2017, with the next one not occurring again until 2045. Eclipse facts and activities, such as the Jr. Ranger Eclipse program, will be shared with visitors during this program so that they can learn more about this historic event.

The West Beach parking lot is located at 376 North County Line Road in Portage, about one half mile north of U.S. Highway 12. For more information on this and other programs at Indiana Dunes National Park, call 219-395-1882, visit our website, download the official National Park Service app, or view our Facebook page. 

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, Indiana

On Monday the public is invited to view the unique phenomenon of the solar eclipse from a beautiful national park setting. Blankets will be allowed for sitting areas on the lawn. Chairs and umbrellas are not allowed. 

Event specific Junior Ranger booklets and badges will be available at the park April 6-8 as supplies last. Educational solar eclipse books and commemorative educational merchandise will be available at the Eastern National Book Store in the Memorial Visitor Center.

“We are excited to share the experience of a total solar eclipse with our visitors and neighbors,” said Superintendent Rhonda Schier. “Abraham Lincoln was passionate about science and a stargazer who wrote about his observations of the heavens and his visit to the Naval Observatory in Washington DC while he was president. This is an opportunity to bring your families to stand in the moon’s shadow at the very place where Lincoln lived as a boy and looked to the stars.”

Public parking at the park is limited. Vehicle access to the park will be closed when parking spaces are filled. Ample additional parking will be available at the adjacent Heritage Hills High School parking lot where there will be a shuttle bus to transport visitors to the Lincoln Living Historical Farm and the Lincoln Boyhood Memorial Visitor Center. A pedestrian path will also be available between the HHHS parking lot and the park for those who prefer to walk. 

Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri

The park will host a viewing event at Big Spring from 10 a.m. — 4 p.m. with almost 4 minutes of totality and free eclipse glasses (for visitors to the event, while supplies last).

Camping reservations at park campgrounds are full for the weekend of the eclipse, though the park’s first-come, first-served sites may be available.  There are first-come, first-served sites in the campgrounds at Big Spring, Alley Spring, Pulltite, and Two Rivers. You can see the location and quantity of these sites on www.recreation.gov  Backcountry campgrounds also offer first-come, first-served sites. For more information on campgrounds within the park, visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/ozar or call (573) 323-4236.

The total eclipse occurs around 1:55 p.m. at the park. To get the best spot for you and your car, plan to arrive in the morning. This will give you plenty of time to park or use the shuttle at the Big Spring eclipse event, stress-free.

Once the total eclipse ends, there will be a rush of cars exiting the area. This will be the height of traffic for the day. To avoid the headache of waiting in line, plan to wait it out. The park will be hosting booths and activities at Big Spring until 4 p.m. Bring a comfy camp chair, plenty of snacks, and something to keep busy while cars exit the area.

Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi/Louisiana

On Monday Vicksburg National Military Park and the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library will host a viewing event for the partial solar eclipse.

The partial solar eclipse with be visible in Vicksburg with an approximate 92 percent occlusion of the sun. Join park rangers and staff from the library outside the visitor center to view this amazing natural event and explore family friendly space-themed activities. Free solar eclipse viewing glasses will be provided for those who participate in the program.

Activities include:

  • Earn a special Eclipse Explorer Junior Ranger Badge by completing activities in an Eclipse Explorer Junior Ranger booklet
  • Learn about celestial events during the Civil War
  • Space themed bean bag toss game

  • Coloring sheets, puzzles, and mazes

  • Celestial themed music

  • Space themed arts & crafts

Viewing event will be ongoing from 12:30 p.m.-3 p.m.

Women’s Rights National Historical Park, New York

Women’s Rights National Historical Park will host a free viewing event for the total solar eclipse on Monday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House in Seneca Falls. 

When the last total solar eclipse passed over Seneca Falls, New York, in January of 1925, women had only had the legal right to vote for a little over four years. This time, it passes over the first national park dedicated to women’s rights. 

Women’s Rights National Historical Park invites visitors to the lawn of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton house (32 Washington Street, Seneca Falls) for a day of free eclipse-related activities. Families are encouraged to attend, and visitors of all ages will have the opportunity to earn a limited-edition Junior Ranger badge for the eclipse. Local partners including the Seneca Museum of Waterways and Industry will provide additional activities at the Stanton Home. Activities and eclipse viewing glasses are free and open to the public, no reservations are required. 

The April 8th total solar eclipse is an exceptionally rare event; only 27 of the 425 national parks in the United States will witness the totality of the eclipse. The time of totality in Seneca Falls will be 3:21 p.m. to 3:24 p.m. Additionally, this will be the only chance to witness a total eclipse in Seneca Falls for at least the next two centuries.

Traveler footnote: Catch the Traveler’s podcast on April 7 when Dr. Tyler Nordgren, and astronomer and artist, and Traveler’s Lynn Riddick will discuss the eclipse.

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