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 moment in 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. For more information on the Great American Solar Eclipse, check out NASA's website.

Surrounding Communities
 
Path of totality for solar eclipse
Path of totality in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Where can I see the eclipse in the Smokies?

The entire western half of Great Smoky Mountains National Park will fall under the path of totality for the eclipse, providing opportunities for viewing, weather permitting. The park is currently planning organized public viewing events at three locations in the park: Clingmans Dome; Cades Cove; and Oconaluftee. Visit the Great Smoky Mountains Association page to buy an Eclipse Regional Map.
Clingmans Dome: Clingmans Dome Trailhead parking area will be converted to a special ticketed event site for experiencing the eclipse with the assistance of experts, educational exhibits, and story tellers. Tickets for the Clingmans Dome event are sold out. Any cancelled tickets will become available to the public again, so visit recreation.gov regularly to watch for cancellations. You must have a ticket to attend the event at Clingmans Dome. Clingmans Dome Road will be closed on Sunday, August 20th and Monday, August 21st to accommodate the special event. Call 865-436-1585 with questions about the event.
Cades Cove and Oconaluftee: The park is currently planning to host informal staff- guided eclipse viewing sites at Cable Mill (Cades Cove) and Oconaluftee Visitor Center. There will be no charge to participate. Vehicle access to these sites, though, may be closed when parking becomes full or roads become congested.

The Park is still working on details for these events, so check back here often for updated information as it becomes available.

Visitors may view the eclipse from other areas of the park on your own, though due to the influx of eclipse viewers during the already-busy season, the Park Service may need to close certain areas on August 21st to reduce gridlock, which may include Newfound Gap Road and Cades Cove.

Furthermore, our educational partner, the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, is planning a special multi-day Science Camp for high school aged students over the eclipse weekend and event. For more information on this opportunity as details become available go to the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont website.
 
Smokies Solar Eclipse Poster

Poster by Tyler Nordgren

Safety

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 you enter the park to ensure you have them for viewing. Advanced purchase of solar glasses is recommended so come back to this webpage to find out when they become available. You may (and should) take them off only during the totality (less than two minutes) or you will miss the highlight of the eclipse!

Visit the Great Smoky Mountains Association page to buy eclipse viewing glasses and other eclipse merchandise!

Planning for the eclipse

August is typically a busy time of year in the park. The solar eclipse will bring even more visitors to the area, so expect traffic delays, congested parking lots, and the possibility of road closures. Please note that eclipse viewers may need to make special plans to avoid viewing the astronomical event while caught in traffic. Visit the main park web page for alerts and current information.

Campgrounds and hotels in the area will fill up quickly for the eclipse. It is a good idea to book early!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has nine frontcountry campgrounds, some requiring reservations. Visit the park campground page for more information.

Permits are required for all overnight stays in the backcountry. Visit the park backcountry permit page for more information on backcountry camping.

Permits are required for all commercial photography, videography, and other special uses. Visit the permit page for more information.

Other communities in the area will be hosting events for the total solar eclipse. Visit the links below for information on events in the surrounding communities.
Jackson County, North Carolina
Bryson City, North Carolina
Franklin County, North Carolina
Highlands, North Carolina
Tennessee State Parks
Sweetwater, Tennessee
Fort Loudoun State Historic Park, Vonore, Tennessee
Other national park sites are planning events for the eclipse. Visit Obed Wild and Scenic River John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and Homestead National Monument of America to learn more.
Other events across totality
Additional links will be added as they become available.

Last updated: June 26, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Phone:

(865) 436-1200

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