A solar eclipse happens at least two times a year all over the world. But for any one location on the planet to experience a total eclipse is rare. One will occur right here in the U.S. in mid to late August for the first time in roughly 25 years. It’s appropriately called the Great American Eclipse.
Granted, people in a 67-mile wide curving band from Oregon to South Carolina will only catch a glimpse of it. That swath includes our area of eastern Tennessee and part of western North Carolina. Of course, we’re excited to see it and even more so for our guests and visitors.
That means plenty of travelers will converge on the Smoky Mountains to view this extraordinary phenomenon. The wide-open canvas of mountain skies will provide an ideal backdrop to view the eclipse. But don’t forget to have recommended eyewear on hand (more about that later). There will be plenty of related activities around Gatlinburg.
Seeing the total eclipse in the National Park
On August 21st, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host public viewing events at Clingman’s Dome (its highest point), Cades Cover and the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. You’ll need to reserve a ticket at the first location. That’s because it will feature a full slate of expert speakers, local storytellers and informative exhibits.
At the latter two, staff will be present in a more informal setting and guide visitors through the viewing time. You won’t need reservations or pay for entry, but keep in mind that available parking will likely fill up and roads could close. If you can’t view the eclipse in one of the National Park’s designated spots, you can try to find your own spot elsewhere. But just be aware that it’s a guaranteed you won’t be alone. It will already be during the peak tourist season, so even more crowds are certain.
The details about the eclipse
Expect the projected time for totality of the solar eclipse to happen around 2:32 PM, Eastern Daylight Time. The first phase will occur around 1:03 PM local time, where you’ll experience a twilight-like light. Totality is when the moon completely obscures the sun, creating a night-like darkness that will only last a few minutes.
A word about viewing the eclipse: Take care to obtain some special eye wear so that you can view the eclipse as it approaches totality. If you have these kinds of glasses, your vision should be well protected. Don’t watch the eclipse without them.
Probably the most important thing to do is make your reservations as soon as possible. Many of the National Park campgrounds have already filled up for that week in August, and the hotels and cabins around Gatlinburg aren’t far behind.
Reserve your spot
Make sure that you’re a part of this historical event and stay with us at Christopher Place, your Smoky Mountains resort. Then find your ideal viewing spot in the National Park at the places we mentioned above, then contact us soon so you don’t miss out on the Great American Eclipse, right here in the Smokies!