On August 21, 2017, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will offer a front row seat to the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in almost 100 years! For a few minutes, the moon will pass directly between the Earth and the sun, creating an unforgettable experience for spectators. The total solar eclipse 2017 will cross the entire United States, stretching from Oregon to South Carolina.
Where to See the Total Solar Eclipse 2017
When you’re trying to find the best spot for the total solar eclipse, you should be anywhere in between the two blue lines that cut across the map.
As you can see in the above map, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville are not right in the path of the total solar eclipse, but we are located right beside the path. This means we’ll have an excellent view of the eclipse, right from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Why is this eclipse so unique?
This video explains why this eclipse is so unique.
How to Get Glasses for the Total Eclipse 2017
It is unsafe to look directly at the sun, even when it is partially eclipsed. To protect their eyes, spectators must wear special eclipse glasses or use hand-held solar viewers. Normal sunglasses aren’t safe for the eclipse because they still let in thousands of times too much sunlight. Fortunately, eclipse glasses and solar viewers are very inexpensive and can be purchased from a number of vendors that have been approved by the American Astronomical Society.
Best Places to See the Total Solar Eclipse 2017 in the Smoky Mountains
The western half of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be ideal for viewing the eclipse. According to NASA, the eclipse will pass over the park at the following times:
- Start of the partial eclipse: 1:06:09 p.m.
- Start of the total eclipse: 2:35:11 p.m.
- Maximum eclipse: 2:35:53 p.m.
- End of total eclipse: 2:36:35 p.m.
- End of partial eclipse: 4:00:05 p.m.
The national park has organized a special ticketed event for viewing the eclipse at Clingmans Dome, which has already sold out. However, if there are any cancellations, tickets will become available again at recreation.gov. The view from Clingmans Dome will be featured in NASA’s live stream of the eclipse.
In addition to the event at Clingmans Dome, the park is also hosting two informal staff-guided eclipse viewings at the Cable Mill in Cades Cove and the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Both of these events are free and open to the public. There are only a limited number of parking spaces at these sites, so we recommend arriving as early as possible to secure your spot.
Of course, visitors to the Smokies are invited to find their own location in the western half of the park to watch the eclipse. As of now, Clingmans Dome Road is the only park road that will be closed during the eclipse. Nevertheless, traffic is expected to be high throughout the national park and it is possible that Newfound Gap Road and the Cades Cove Loop Road will need to be closed to reduce gridlock.
If you’re staying in a cabin in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, you’ll be only a couple of minutes from the national park. It’s a great idea to start planning your vacation right away because cabins are filling up quickly for the event! We recommend staying in the Smokies for the whole weekend, rather than trying to visit for just the day of the eclipse.
Have something to add about the total solar eclipse 2017? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.