Viewing the Remarkable 2017 Solar Eclipse in National Parks

July 13, 2017Katherine RivardNPF Blog
Homestead National Monument – Mel Mann/NPS
8 Events to Help You Start Planning for the Total Solar Eclipse

A total eclipse is nature at its most incredible. It lasts less than three minutes and along its path, twilight suddenly descends where there was sunlight just moments before. The temperature drops as the sun disappears behind the moon. Even animals are quiet in response to the unusual atmospheric change.

On August 21, anyone along this strip of land across America (the line of totality) will experience the phenomenon firsthand; furthermore, all 50 states in the U.S. will be able to see at least a partial eclipse.

Whether you’re seeing the total eclipse or a partial eclipse, national parks are an excellent stage to take in the glory of this natural phenomenon. Our suggestion? Order appropriate eye protection, then start planning to attend one of the eclipse events happening across the country.

5 people on a panel about the Great American Solar Eclipse 2017
Bill Ingalls/NASA

Here are eight ideas to help you start planning for an unforgettable total eclipse of the sun:

  1. Charleston is one of the lucky cities to be in the line of totality (the area in which the sun is completely eclipsed by the moon; here, the eclipse is far more dramatic than an area from which only a partial eclipse is visible). Still, we recommend getting away from the crowds and the traffic and heading to Charles Pinckney National Historic Site. The site will be hosting the event in cooperation with the College of Charleston and the National Park Service.
  2. Ninety Six National Historic Site is in the path of totality and pleased to be part of it. The park is welcoming guests to view the eclipse from Star Fort Pond. The event is free, but for an occurrence that’s almost as rare as hens’ teeth, you’ll want to call ahead to make a reservation!
  3. Equipped with special telescopes and paper eclipse glasses, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is eager to be able to welcome visitors to see the partial eclipse. Whether you’re boating for the day and just happen to be in the park for the event, or you’ve been waiting all year to see the eclipse, this short chance to see a different form of the desert sun is sure to be exciting.

The bright sun in a blue sky over the river and the red Reflection Canyon of Glen Canyon
Gary Ladd/NPS
  1. For two hours surrounding the event, experts will be available at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve with telescopes and information about the partial solar eclipse. Stand in the Flint Hills tallgrass and take in this natural phenomenon amidst the prairie land that once covered over 170 million acres of America.
  2. An archeoastronomy site is the perfect spot to witness the partial eclipse if you happen to be in New Mexico for the event. Before or after the spectacle at Aztec Ruins National Monument, you’ll be able to also learn about the connections between the sun and the ancestral Pueblo people.

The ruins of former buildings at Aztec Ruins National Monument
National Park Service
  1. Combining Civil War history with modern astronomy history, Stones River National Battlefield will be providing the first 1500 visitors with eclipse viewing glasses. The gates to the park will be closed once they have reached capacity, but so long as you’re early, you’ll also be able to participate in a number of other activities and programs before the arrival of the eclipse.
  2. If you’re in Florida this August, stop by Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve to enjoy viewing the partial eclipse. You’ll be able to behold the event amidst wetlands and plantation structures. Handheld solar viewers will be available, but be sure to arrive early, as numbers are limited.

A person on a boat at sunrise at Cedar Point boat ramp at Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve
T.K. Reynolds/NPS
  1. Head to Nebraska for one of the greatest eclipse celebrations in the park system. Excited to be in the line of totality, Homestead National Monument of America will be offering a 3-day festival in partnership with the Planetary Society (read: Bill Nye). There will be a variety of events throughout the day, including folk music, cornhusk doll making, and expert speakers from NASA. There’s something to please everyone in the family, so be sure to check out the day’s schedule to ensure you don’t miss a thing!

Twenty national parks and nine national trails will be in the line of totality. Here is a comprehensive list of which national parks will offer the best views for this spectacle.

Unless you’re willing to wait until April 8, 2024, take advantage of this incredible sight and the chance to enjoy it amidst our beautifully preserved national parks. So, grab your eclipse glasses, then go #FindYourPark/#EncuentraTuParque this August 21.

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