ARTICLE OVERVIEW: 2024 Solar Eclipse Path
The 2024 Solar Eclipse will bring a brushstroke of darkness from Texas to Maine on April 8, with 43 million people in its path and millions more on the way. The prime destinations should be along a narrow line called the “Path of Totality.” Even just a few miles one way or another can limit the exceptional experience of totality.
You aren’t too late to start planning your 2024 eclipse trip, and we’re here to help you as we’ve been planning this adventure since just after the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. Another total solar eclipse won’t cross the United States until 2044.
America’s public lands are some of the best viewing locations. First, they are preserved with plenty of space for everyone. Second, experts will be on hand to help maximize the experience. Thirdly, the two national parks in the path of totality have no entrance fees!
Where is the best viewing spot? How long will it last? Where can you get glasses to view the eclipse safely? And is the 2024 Solar Eclipse really worth it?
Let’s dive into the details.
Table of Contents: Solar Eclipse 2024 at National Parks
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Table of Contents: Solar Eclipse 2024 at National Parks
- Table of Contents: Solar Eclipse 2024 at National Parks
- What is the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse?
- Best Cities to View 2024 Eclipse
- Solar Eclipse 2024 Interactive Map
- National Parks in 2024 Eclipse Path
- Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
- All National Park Service Sites in Path of 2024 Eclipse
- National Forests in 2024 Solar Eclipse Path
- What State is Least Likely to Have Cloud Cover for Eclipse 2024?
What is the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse?
It helps to understand how the Earth, Sun, and Moon orbit to wrap your head around the rarity of a solar eclipse. The moon rotates around the earth every 27 days or so while the Earth orbits the sun in a full cycle that spans 365 days.
The moon rotates with a 5° tilt, which is how we get different phases of the month throughout the year. That slight tilt means it takes a very particular set of circumstances to experience the rarest of all eclipses – a total solar eclipse.
This can only happen when the moon is directly between Earth and the Sun. But that’s only part of the equation. As we saw in the 2023 Annular “Ring of Fire” eclipse, the Moon was perfectly aligned between Earth and the Sun.
The only hiccup was that the moon wasn’t close enough to Earth to cover the sun fully. The “Ring of Fire” was the overflow of the sun around the moon.
However, during a Total Solar Eclipse, the Moon – which is 400 times smaller than the Sun – also happens to be 400 times closer to Earth than the Sun. That’s why the sun and the moon look similar in size from your perspective. On the rare occasion when the moon can completely block the sun by being just close enough to the earth, we get the Total Solar Eclipse, as will happen on April 8, 2024.
The Moving Moon: The moon moves about 1.5 inches away from Earth every year. That means in the (very, very distant) future, a total solar eclipse won’t be possible.
Best Cities to View 2024 Eclipse
Without getting too scientific on you, the axis tilt and evolving movement of the Moon and Earth means a short window for total darkness during an eclipse. The entire experience is 2-3 hours in length as the moon moves in front of the sun. During a few fleeting minutes, the moon’s shadow covers a narrow slice of land.
Anyone in the path of the eclipse will experience one of two shadows.
- The umbra is the darkest part of the shadow (total eclipse), where no light from the source can reach. It is located directly behind the object casting the shadow. The umbra is cone-shaped, with its apex at the object and its base expanding away from the object.
- The penumbra is the partially shaded region of the shadow (partial eclipse), where some light from the source can still reach. It surrounds the umbra and is less dark than the umbra. The penumbra is also cone-shaped, but its apex is wider than the apex of the umbra.
At the same time, it’s important to know that not every city along the path of the eclipse will have darkness for the same length of time. We’ve done the math to offer you the longest totality locations in the path of the 2024 Solar Eclipse.
Top 10 Cities for Longest Solar Eclipse Totality
The longest totality is 4 minutes and 23 seconds, with the shortest totality being 1 minute and 23 seconds.
|Partial Eclipse Start to Finish
|Eagle Pass, Texas
|4 minutes 23 seconds
|12:10pm – 2:51pm
|4 minutes 23 seconds
|12:14pm – 2:55pm
|4 minutes 17 seconds
|1:36pm – 2:59pm
|4 minutes 16 seconds
|12:12pm – 2:53pm
|Poplar Bluff, Missouri
|4 minutes 8 seconds
|12:39pm – 3:15pm
|4 minutes 8 seconds
|12:42pm – 3:18pm
|Cape Girardeau, Missouri
|4 minutes 6 seconds
|12:41pm – 3:17pm
|3 minutes 55 seconds
|1:54pm – 4:24pm
|3 minutes 50 seconds
|1:59pm – 4:28pm
|3 minutes 46 seconds
|1:50pm – 4:23pm
Buy Solar Eclipse Glasses Now: Even the parks that offer free glasses are likely to run out and the closer we get to April 8, the more expensive and hard-to-find the glasses will become. We recommend these glasses as they meet all the NASA standards to protect your eyes.
States and Cities in 2024 Solar Eclipse Path
The eclipse goes through 13 states after entering from Mexico into Texas and before exiting Maine into Canada.
Those states are:
- New York
- New Hampshire
As you can see in the map below, only narrow slices of those states are included. The number of major metropolitan areas is whittled down to just a handful. Knowing these cities might also help with your air travel plans.
- Dallas, Texas
- Fort Worth, Texas
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Indianapolis, Indiana
- Little Rock, Arkansas
- Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, New York
Solar Eclipse 2024 Interactive Map
National Parks in 2024 Eclipse Path
Choosing to view the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse at a National Park or National Park Service site makes sense since there’s a lot of space and a safe environment for families.
For the April 2024 Eclipse, just two National Parks are on the path, and they each bring something unique to explore beyond the celestial sights.
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Average Weather on April 8: High of 73°F and low around 51°F, with 60% humidity and 30% chance of rain. Historically, the mornings are clear, afternoons are partly cloudy, and evenings are mostly cloudy. Check the Hot Springs Weather Forecast closer to the 2024 Solar Eclipse.
Entrance Fee: None!
Hashtags: #Eclipse2024 #VisitArkansas
April 8, 2024, will mark the first time Arkansas has been in a Path of Totality since 1918. Located in the heart of Arkansas, the park encompasses over 5,500 acres of scenic landscapes.
One thing some visitors will like is that the park doesn’t feel like a traditional national park since it’s technically an “urban” park. That means downtown Hot Springs and Bathhouse Row will also be brimming with eclipse activities.
Best Views in Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs National Park offers 26 miles of hiking trails and some scenic drives that lead to seven great overlooks. The spacious skies from these overlooks in Hot Springs National Park will make ideal viewing for the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.
- Hot Springs Mountain Lookout Point: Stunning views of the city of Hot Springs with the Ouachita Mountains.
- Goat Rock Overlook: A view above the Zigzag Mountains and Silver Mountain.
- West Mountain Lower Overlook: One of my favorite overlooks in the park is this one, with Bathhouse Row below and a view straight across to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower Overlook.
- West Mountain Picnic Overlook: Higher up that same mountain, a picnic area built in 1924 stands with higher views of downtown Hot Springs.
- West Mountain Loop Overlook: This is the top of West Mountain with 180° views of the Trap Mountains and Lake Hamilton.
- Hot Springs Mountain Tower Overlook: The best panoramic views in the park, the Mountain Tower stands nearly 1,300 feet above sea level.
- Balanced Rock Overlook: Located in one of the most remote park sections, this spur trail to Balanced Rock is off the Sunset Trail.
Bathhouse Row Views
One of the most unique aspects of Hot Springs National Park is its historic Bathhouse Row, a collection of eight ornate bathhouses dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These grand buildings, with their towering architecture and intricate details, provide a picturesque backdrop for viewing the eclipse.
Camping at Hot Springs National Park
The park has one campsite with 40 sites, but those were sold out quickly. We do have some helpful information we research to find campsites that might be available for you. Simply use this link to Recreation.gov, and you can see nearby available campsites. Keep in mind that “nearby” might be liberal when it comes to finding a site for this busy event.
Best Places Near Hot Springs National Park to See the Eclipse
You can make a long weekend of the 2024 Solar Eclipse experience because the town hosts several locations with activities beginning on Friday, April 5.
We’ve gathered up local events and activities across the Arkansas 2024 Solar Eclipse path of totality to help expand your trip options.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Average Weather on April 8: High of 57°F and low around 38°F, with 55% humidity and a 30% chance of rain. That comes with a 50% chance of cloud cover. Check out the Cuyahoga Valley weather forecast closer to the 2024 Solar Eclipse.
Entrance Fee: None!
Hashtags: #Eclipse2024 #OhioTheHeartofitAll
Ohio’s path of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse includes the largest metro areas with a national park on the entire path. The park is tucked between Cleveland and Akron, yet feels miles away from any urban area once you’re immersed in the scenery.
With more than 33,000 acres of forest, waterfalls, gorges, and waterways. Train rides and historic buildings add to the experience before or after viewing the eclipse. The park’s length spans 22 miles of roadway, offering several entrance and exit points along the way. Pick your viewing location ahead of time to avoid sitting in miles of traffic.
The chance of seeing an eclipse again won’t happen until 2099, and the previous one was in 1806!
Best Views for 2024 Solar Eclipse in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
The park offers night sky activities regularly, and we’re tapping into those locations as the best spots to see the 2024 Solar Eclipse in Ohio. We’re breaking this down by the direction of the sky you’ll see. The path of totality moves from southwest to northeast.
Western Sky Views
- Beaver Marsh: Located on the southern end of the park, try to score a spot on the walkway for the best viewing and photos.
- Jaite Meadows: Centrally located in the park, this is off the Red Lock Trailhead.
North and East Sky Views
- Pine Hollow: Pine Hollow offers amazing views to the north and is one of the best places in the park to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) when conditions are right. Check the Space Weather Conditions during your trip.
- Oak Hill Trailhead: While this spot offers the darkest night skies in the park, it’s also one of the prime viewing locations for the eclipse.
Map of Best Solar Eclipse Locations in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Camping in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Most importantly, there isn’t camping in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. You can consider other camping options within 50 miles of the park, but those will likely sell out quickly. We checked many of the closest ones to the park, and they are sold out already in 2023.
We recommend starting with the campsites in the “Under 50 Miles” category, as there are openings as of late 2023.
Places Near Cuyahoga Valley to See Total Solar Eclipse
As noted above, many communities are planning weekend events since the eclipse happens on a Monday. In fact, many schools on the path of totality across Ohio are closed for the 2024 Solar Eclipse.
You can use this link to find other parks and spaces within the 124 span of eclipse totality. Here are a few ideas to expand your Ohio 2024 Solar Eclipse trip to include nearby communities. We’ve made it easy for you to visit the tourist sites for each location.
- Shores & Islands: Includes Cedar Point, Sandusky, and Put-In-Bay.
All National Park Service Sites in Path of 2024 Eclipse
FULL LIST: Every National Park Service Location in the Path of Total Solar Eclipse 2024
Del Rio: Amistad National Recreation Area
Hot Springs: Hot Springs National Park
Buffalo City: Buffalo National River
Van Buren: Ozark National Scenic Riverways
Ste Genevieve: Ste Genevieve National Historical Park
Lincoln City: Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
Vincennes: George Rogers Clark National Historical Park
Wilberforce: Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument (Check to see if it’s open)
Near Cleveland & Akron: Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Seneca Falls: Women’s Rights National Historical Park
Penobscot County: Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument
National Forests in 2024 Solar Eclipse Path
If you’re looking to avoid the crowds of the national parks, consider the national forests under the Forest Service that are also in the path of totality. Finding last-minute Solar Eclipse 2024 camping options at these forests might be better than chasing down individual spots.
FULL LIST: National Forest Locations in Path of 2024 Total Solar Eclipse
Ouachita National Forest: The entire forest is in Path of Totality.
Ozark St. Francis National Forest: The eastern half is in the eclipse path.
Mark Twain National Forest: The southeastern section is in the eclipse path.
Shawnee National Forest: Most of the forest is in Path of Totality. Designated campsites are expected to sell out, but dispersed camping is allowed.
Allegheny National Forest: Very small sections of the forest are in the path, but campsites might be more readily available here if you can drive to the total solar eclipse portion.
What State is Least Likely to Have Cloud Cover for Eclipse 2024?
We crunched some data to help make an educated
guess decision on where the clouds are most likely to be cloud-free on April 8, 2024.
Based on the average cloud cover, the states with the best chance of clear skies for a solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, are, from best to worst:
- New Hampshire
- New York
We tracked the weather on April 8, 2023. For example, Maine’s Houlton and Katahdin Woods & Waters had clear skies. Dallas had 30% cloud cover. Hot Springs was completely cloud-covered. Akron was dealing with severe thunderstorms and an EF-1 tornado nearby.
While just a matter of luck, it’s also important to realize other aspects of the weather in each region. For example, Maine is in the middle of what’s called “Mud Season” in April. That means many trails and roadways will be thick with mud or closed to protect the trails.
April is also known as Tornado Season from Texas to Ohio. Actually, the eclipse path looks a lot like what a severe thunderstorm path could be!
Places like Maine, Vermont, and New York could still get a big snowstorm in early April.
Keeping a close eye on the weather in the 10 days before the eclipse is important for viewing locations, but also for outdoor safety.
Pin 2024 Eclipse in National Parks
Helpful Related Links in 2024 Solar Eclipse States
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