2023 Annular Eclipse

Large group of people standing in a row with telescopes on tripods.
Glen Canyon had a prime viewing spot on top of Wahweap Overlook during the May 20, 2012 annular eclipse.


On October 14, 2023 Glen Canyon National Recreation Area will experience one of the great astronomical events of local history: an Annular Solar Eclipse. This eclipse will obscure a portion of the sun for nearly three hours in the morning of that special Saturday. The next annular eclipse in the United States won't take place until 2041 making this an incredibly rare occurrence, if not once in a lifetime for many who come to see.

The 2023 Annular Eclipse will pass through seven states and more than twenty national park units. As the moon races across the morning October sky, the sun will be partially obscured while leaving a wondrous "Ring of Fire" and viewers with a phenomenal marvel. Even with the sun partially obscured, it is never safe to view the sun during the Annular Eclipse without proper eye protection!

Solar scope with viewing pad on a tripod. Image of eclipsed sun is projected on the pad.
In May 2012, our astro volunteers rigged their solar scopes into "sun guns" which projected the image of the sun onto a safe to view pad during the annular eclipse.


What is an Annular Eclipse?

An Annular Eclipse varies from a Total Eclipse in one major way. While a Total Solar Eclipse obscures the entirety of the sun at its peak totality, an Annular Solar Eclipse means that a small amount of annularity, popularly known as a "Ring of Fire," remains. These differences occur due to the moon's elliptical orbit around the Earth, so the distance is not constant and allows the moon to appear smaller or larger in the sky. Annular eclipses take place during a further part of the moon's orbit.

Total eclipse v. annular eclipse

Annular solar eclipses and total solar eclipses are similar in that they occur when the moon passes between the sun and Earth. The moon temporarily blocks the sun and casts its shadow on Earth. The difference has to do with geometry. The moon travels an elliptical orbit around the Earth. When the moon is closer to the Earth, it looks bigger in our sky, and can block more of the sun’s light, from our perspective here on the Earth. When the moon is close to the Earth in its orbit and aligns perfectly with the sun, a total solar eclipse occurs. When the moon is too far from the Earth to completely obscure the sun, an annular eclipse occurs.

Safe eclipse viewing

It’s never safe to look at the sun without eye protection at any time during an annular eclipse. And during a total solar eclipse, only when the solar corona is visible, is it safe to look at the eclipsed sun without specially designed solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses.” Homemade filters and ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. Learn more about how to view eclipses safely.

Most recent annular eclipse

The last annular eclipse visible from the United States occurred on May 20, 2012. The eclipse began over the Pacific Ocean and, from south of the Aleutian Islands, traveled to the California coast at Redwoods National Park. Then, from there, traveling at 1,000 mph, the shadow of the eclipse raced south and east over 30 national parks in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, and even into west Texas before sunset. The next annular eclipse visible from the United States will be October 14, 2023, traveling across Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas.

Park Ranger with images of a partial eclipse projected onto her reflective safety vest. People in background use eclipse glasses to view the sky.
Using pinhole projectors, rangers were able to display multiple images of the annular eclipse onto any surface on May 20, 2012. Anyone looking in the direction of the sun wore eclipse glasses.


Safe Viewing Practices

Annular eclipses differ from total eclipses in that at no point is it safe to view the sun without properly rated eye protection! Come by any visitor center on the days leading to the eclipse or find a ranger the morning of to get your eclipse glasses. We want to ensure everybody has a safe morning and the equipment to do so! Sunglasses are not sufficient protection for viewing the sun.

Make sure you've found a safe place from which to view the eclipse. Don't be a distracted driver, stop your vehicle in a safe place if you plan on viewing the eclipse. Parking and guided viewing will be available at all visitor centers, other park overlooks & parking areas will remain open, and safe and lawful parking will be strictly enforced. On the lake? Beach your boat before the eclipse starts, don't drift around the channel looking at the sky. You never know who is not paying attention to the sky or other boats.

Two people stand next two solar telescopes. One holds up filter over his head and looks at the sun.
Solar eclipse viewing on May 20, 2012 at Carl Hayden Visitor Center


Where and When Can I See the Eclipse at Glen Canyon?

While most of the U.S. will see a partial eclipse, the majority of the Utah portion of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and all of Rainbow Bridge National Monument will see an annular eclipse where the moon will be entirely outlined by the sun. If you have a boat, you can spread out all over Lake Powell to view the event. A bit of backcountry travel can also get you to some beautiful spots wher you can camp out or just stay for the day and watch the skies. The park will host three viewing events on the day of the eclipse. If you do not plan to attend a hosted event, please do not pull over on the side of the road or set your boat adrift in the middle of the channel during the eclipse to watch. Find a safe place to park so you can safely watch the sun.

Visitor Center Watch Parties

Carl Hayden Visitor Center at Glen Canyon Dam: The partial eclipse begins at approximately 8:09am and ends at 10:59am (MST). The eclipse will not quite reach annularity at this location.
Escalante Interagency Visitor Center: The partial eclipse begins at approximately 9:09 am and ends at 11:58 am. The full annularity begins at 10:27am, hits maximum at 10:29am, and ends at 10:31am (all MDT).

What to Expect as You Plan:

  • Expect large crowds throughout the area, plan ahead and have a backup plan.
  • If you want to take a boat tour or stay in one of the lodges, book it as far ahead as you can.
  • Plan for congestion as the eclipse ends! Consider staying where you are and prepare for heavy traffic in the area throughout the day.
  • Know your camping options in the area.
  • There is a marathon on Utah Route 12 on October 14. Expect additional congestion and closures related to the race.
  • There is a marathon in Page AZ, in town, on Hwy 89, right past Carl Hayden Visitor Center on Glen Canyon Bridge, and into the park via Lakeshore Drive on October 14. Expect additional congestion and closures related to the race.
  • October usually has beautiful mild clear weather. But in the event of storm clouds, safety first! When thunder roars, go indoors! If it is cloudy, the eclipse would be unviewable anyway.

Emergency Assistance


Last updated: October 26, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 1507
Page, AZ 86040


928 608-6200
Receptionist available at Glen Canyon Headquarters from 7 am to 4 pm MST, Monday through Friday. The phone is not monitored when the building is closed. If you are having an emergency, call 911 or hail National Park Service on Marine Band 16.

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