2017 Solar Eclipse

Sun's corona during total solar eclipse
Sun's corona at totality

Photo from NASA

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between Earth and the sun, blocking at least part of the sun as viewed from some areas of the earth. During a total solar eclipse, the moon completely obscures the sun so that only the sun's corona is visible for a brief time. On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible along a roughly 67-mile wide path across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. Some sections of the parkway southwest of Asheville, NC will be on the outer edge of the path of totality. The period of totality in these areas will vary from approximately 30 to 70 seconds. For more information on the Great American Solar Eclipse, visit NASA's website.


Proper eye protection is necessary to safely look directly at the sun except during eclipse totality. Severe eye injury can result without protection!

Special viewing glasses are required in order to safely view the solar eclipse. A limited number of glasses will be available within the park. It is best to purchase them before your visit and bring them with you to ensure you have them available to use. A number of online retailers are selling eclipse glasses. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses—even very dark ones—do not provide sufficient protection for viewing the eclipse.

Never look directly at the sun's rays—even if the sun is partly obscured—without the special viewing glasses. During the short time when the moon completely blocks the sun—the period of totality—you may look directly at the sun, but you must know when to remove and replace your glasses. Remember you must be in the narrow path of totality to look at the sun without protection.

Find out more about viewing the eclipse safely by visiting NASA's website.

August is a busy time of year on the parkway. The solar eclipse will bring even more visitors to the area, so expect traffic delays and congested parking areas. There are limited services along the parkway, and due to heavy traffic volume, you may be "stuck" in one location for a number of hours. Come prepared!

Bring food and water, a first-aid kit, sunscreen and a hat to protect against sunburn. August weather is typically hot and muggy with high temperatures that can reach over 90ºF. Afternoon thunderstorms are common. Overlooks in the viewing area have little shade; therefore bring a larger supply of water than you think you will need.

Cell service is spotty on the southern end of the parkway and increased numbers of users may interrupt any available service.

What to Expect on the Parkway

On the parkway, overlooks from Milepost 417 to 469 will provide viewing opportunities for the eclipse, though not all of these areas will be in the path of totality. In addition, areas of the parkway as far north as Roanoke, VA will experience at least 90% totality. The percentage of totality will continue to decline the further north you travel along the parkway.

The following overlooks will provide suitable vantage points. These are east facing areas with open views and paved parking.
Milepost Overlook Name Info/Activities Parking Spaces Eclipse % Totality Maximum Eclipse At: Length of Totality: Toilets Available
408.4 Flat Laurel Gap Yes 63 99.9 2:37:36 p.m. Yes
409.3 Funnel Top Parking 15 99.9 2:37:36 p.m. Yes
411 Craddle of Forestry Overlook Yes 25 99.9 2:37:35 p.m. Yes
417 Looking Glass 30 Total 2:37:35 p.m. 28 seconds Yes
418.8 Graveyard Fields Parking 30 Total 2:37:33 p.m. 39 seconds Yes
422.4 Devils Courthouse Yes 50 Total 2:37:33 p.m. 68 seconds Yes
423.5 Courthouse Valley 40 Total 2:37:27 p.m. 76 seconds Yes
428 Caney Fork 15 Total 2:37:18 p.m. 71 seconds Yes
430.7 Cowee 25 Total 2:37:13 p.m. 63 seconds Yes
431 Haywood/Jackson 50 Total 2:37:12 p.m. 60 seconds Yes
431.4 Richland Balsam Yes 50 Total 2:37:12 p.m. 58 seconds Yes
432.7 Lone Bald 10 Total 2:37:07 p.m. 57 seconds Yes
436.8 Grassy Ridge Mine 20 Total 2:37:01 p.m. 43 seconds Yes
445.2 Mt Lynn Lowry 15 Total 2:36:52 p.m. 35 seconds Yes
448.5 Scott Creek 15 Total 2:36:49 p.m. 42 seconds Yes
450 Yellow Face 15 Total 2:36:47 p.m. 39 seconds Yes
451.2 Waterrock Knob Yes 110 Total 2:36:45 p.m. 44 seconds Yes
451.2 Browning Knob 11 Total 2:36:45 p.m. 44 seconds Yes
451.2 Cranberry Ridge 25 Total 2:36:44 p.m. 36 seconds Yes
458.2 Mile High Overlook on Heintooga Spur Road Yes 30 99.9 2:36:36 p.m. Yes
461.2 Big Witch Gap 99.9 2:36:30 p.m. Yes
467.9 Raven Fork Total 2:36:23 p.m. 53 seconds Yes

NOTE: Activity locations subject to change.

Additional tips for parkway visitors on eclipse day:

  • Expect heavy traffic. Have plenty of patience and fuel for the journey.
  • Driving on the parkway requires extra caution due to steep grades, limited sight distances, decending radius curves and other concerns.
  • Plan several options for viewing locations and get there early in the day. If parking is full at your first choice location, move to another.
  • Bring activities to pass the hours while you are waiting for the eclipse to occur.
  • Help keep the park beautiful! Do not leave your trash behind when you leave—pack it out with you. Practice Leave No Trace principals.
  • Overnight parking is not allowed on the parkway.
  • Pisgah Inn (Milepost 408) parking will be for guests of the inn and restaurant only.
  • Temporary closures may be in effect.

More Eclipse Events

The following local communities will also be hosting eclipse events:

Jackson County, North Carolina
Bryson City, North Carolina
Franklin County, North Carolina
Highlands, North Carolina

Nineteen other national parks will be in the path of totality, including eleven national park sites in the southeast.

Other events across totality

Astronomy Club of Asheville

Citizen Scientist Projects

Life Responds is an iNaturalist-powered citizen science effort to document how plants and animals react durig the total solar eclipse. Download the iNaturalist app and learn more by visiting www.calacademy.org/citizen-science/solar-eclipse-2017

The Eclipse Megamovie Project will gather images of the 2017 total solar eclipse from volunteer photographers, amateur astronomers, and the general public, and stitch them together to create an expanded and continuous view of the total eclipse as it crosses the United States. Learn more at https://eclipsemega.movie

Last updated: September 5, 2017

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