2024 Eclipse

A park ranger wearing a pair of eclipse glasses.
On April 8, 2024, a total eclipse passed over Ozark National Scenic Riverways! The page below has information on the completed event's schedule and eclipse safety.

NPS Photo / Wil Marischen

 
 
 
A step-by-step sequence showing the stages of the total eclipse.
A total eclipse is an "astronomical" opportunity that puts our solar system into perspective.

Photo courtesy of American Astronomical Society / Rick Fienberg

When was the eclipse?

The total eclipse took place on Monday, April 8, 2024! At Big Spring, the total eclipse began just after 1:55 pm and ended before 2:00 pm (local time). The partial eclipse lasted longer, starting at 12:39 pm and ending at 3:15 pm. Detailed timetables can be found further down this page. For eclipse times outside of the park, visit this interactive eclipse timing map.

The park's free event ran from 10 am to 4 pm at Big Spring.

What makes a total eclipse special?

A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth while the Moon and Earth are closer together. Because the Moon is closer, its shadow will completely block the sun in some areas. In the Ozarks, it will be as dark as night at 1:55 pm!

If you are in the path of totality, there will be a short period where it is safe to view the eclipse without protective eyewear! Weather permitting, this can be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the Sun's "corona," or outer atmosphere, which is usually obscured by sunlight.

When darkness falls, you can watch nature react in strange ways! Evening critters may begin their mating calls early, and cattle will return to their nighttime shelters. Eclipses are a reminder of how the natural world works, regardless of hours or minutes.

 
A picture of a rainbow refracting out of a sphere, mimicking an eclipse. Text reads "2024 Total Eclipse, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Experience the Zark Side of the Moon."
Experience the 'Zark Side of the Moon at this once-in-a-lifetime event! The next total eclipse will not cover Missouri until the year 2505.

NPS / Wil Marischen

Where can I see the eclipse?

The park will be hosting a "Zark Side of the Moon" eclipse viewing at Big Spring, located south of Van Buren, Missouri. This event is completely free to attend! Big Spring offers an open viewing area with around 4 minutes of totality. A list of activities and attractions can be found below. Free parking will be available near Big Spring; view the tabs below for more details.

The park will also host a ranger booth at Alley Spring, which offers an open area and around 2 1/2 minutes of totality. A limited number of free eclipse glasses and Junior Eclipse Explorer books will be available.

As usual, the rest of the riverways is open for viewing the eclipse. In addition to the two rivers, there are numerous campgrounds, trails, gravel bars, and other points of interest. Perhaps you will see totality from the Current River, or from the ridgelines of the Ozark Trail. These are great opportunities for experiencing the eclipse in remote, natural areas. Remember: Ozark National Scenic Riverways does not charge an entry fee!

Wherever you go, refer to a map of the eclipse path before making any plans. See the Eclipse Coverage section below for totality within the park. While much of the river is covered, areas north of Round Spring will have little to no totality.

 

Parking: All of the parking listed here is available free of charge! Some parking will be available within walking distance of Big Spring, with overflow parking available on Skyline Drive. Shuttle buses will be running from Skyline Drive to Big Spring; see the tab below for more information on shuttle service. 

Parking will be managed by NPS Park Rangers, and visitors will be directed to parking locations as they arrive.  Parking location and capacity could be impacted by a variety of factors, including ground moisture near Big Spring. So, Park Rangers will determine the best parking locations at the time of the event.

To reach Big Spring, drive westbound on Highway 60 from Van Buren. Southwest of the bridge, turn onto Highway 103 and follow the road for about 4 miles. Around the 4th mile, you will cross a small bridge, after which there will be a large field. This field will serve the event center. On the day of the event, follow posted signs and ranger instructions for parking. View this location on Google Maps or call (573) 323-4236 for further directions, if needed.

Remember: "Be prepared and be patient." On the day of the event, entering and leaving the park will be slow. Consider arriving early in the morning, before roads become busy. Likewise, consider waiting until traffic has dissipated to drive home.

If event parking at Big Spring fills up, off-site parking is located just outside the park on Skyline Drive. A free shuttle bus will run to and from Big Spring, carrying visitors and their belongings.

The shuttle will follow a schedule, but keep in mind that there will be a waiting period for pickup and dropoff. As always, we encourage visitors to arrive early and plan to stay late. Allow plenty of time for shuttling.

Note: There may be parking along different city or county roads, but shuttle service is only planned for Skyline Drive at this time.

Free boat launching will be allowed at Big Spring on the day of the eclipse. However, parking will be limited to the paved spots near the ramp. There will be no overflow parking for boat trailers.

Boat launches will be heavily congested for the weekend of the eclipse. Plan to show up earlier and leave later than anticipated, and remember that spots may fill up quickly!

 

What should I bring?

While the park provides activities and viewing equipment, visitors should bring food, water, and comfortable seating.

  • Food: There will be some food and drink vendors during the event, but you may want to bring snacks or drinks.

  • Water Bottles: Refill stations will be available at Big Spring. 

  • Seating: Seating is not provided, and the ground may be wet. Bring enough chairs for everyone in your group.

 
A Smokey Bear hot air balloon, with text reading "See the Smokey Bear Balloon, courtesy of Mark Twain National Forest!"

What is happening on the "Zark Side of the Moon?"

Click the tabs below to read about activites offered on April 8.

 

Take this rare opportunity to witness Smokey's hot air balloon visiting the Midwest! Smokey measures in at a massive 97 feet tall (with basket) and 72 feet wide (at the brim of the hat)!

This service is made possible by the Friends of Smokey Bear Balloon and Mark Twain National Forest. We thank them for their assistance with this event!

FREE rides are tentatively scheduled for 7:30 am, though this may be pushed back if temperature and humidity are not yet suitable. Rides involve the balloon rising about 50 feet into the air while tethered to ground vehicles. These floats last a few minutes before returning to the ground.

Note: Times are subject to change. High humidity, unfavorable temperatures, or wind/rain may impact hours of operation and/or prevent inflation. Keep an eye on this page or our Facebook page for any updates regarding the hot air balloon's schedule. Otherwise, the number of rides will be limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Air Balloon Ride Restrictions

  • All riders must be able to board and unboard without assistance. Mobility is required to enter the basket.
  • Children must be tall enough to see out the side windows. Children cannot be held in someone else's arms while riding. This presents a risk for falling.
  • Hot air balloons have weight restrictions based on the current wind, temperature, and humidity. This affects the number of people that can ride at a given time. This also means that rides may be unavailable if weather conditions are unsuitable.
  • Whether or not an individual can ride is the pilot's decision. The park makes no guarantees for availability.

Whether you're looking through our FREE eclipse glasses or gazing at a sun funnel, the stages of the eclipse are amazing for all three hours! A variety of telescopes and viewers will be available for all ages.

Note: The park will have a limited number of free eclipse glasses. If you have your own, please bring them! If attendance is high, we cannot guarantee glasses for every visitor.

Remember: At this event, there will only be a brief window where it is safe to view the eclipse without glasses. This window will be announced using the horn of our NPS fire truck! Look and listen for instructions on the day of the eclipse. However, outside of totality, there is no point at which it is safe to view the sun without properly rated eye protection! Be sure to read our section on eclipse safety further down this page.

What do you really know about our sun and eclipses? Stop by our booths and activity area to find out!

The National Park Service and its partners will host hands-on fun and demonstrations. Learn how and why we are the only planet to have total eclipses, and see the dance of the solar system around the sun. These educational activites are suitable for all ages!

The following organizations will host booths at this event:

  1. United States Forest Service (USFS)
  2. Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC)
  3. Ozark Riverways Foundation (ORF)
  4. Carter County Health Center (CCHC)
  5. DarkSky Missouri (DSM)
  6. Eastern National (EN)

For more information on each of these groups, check out the "Our Partners" section further down this page.

Take this opportunity to meet Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl!

These woodland heroes educate kids about recycling, wildland fire, and more. Learn about how YOU can protect your environment during this fun-filled event!

Earn your badge and become a Junior Ranger or Junior Eclipse Explorer! Self-guided activities are fun for the whole family, teaching lessons about the park and our solar system. Badges and books will be available while supplies last.

Follow these steps to earn your badge:

  1. Stop by the Ozark National Scenic Riverways booth and ask for an activity booklet.
  2. Complete activities and fill out pages as instructed. Feel free to ask friends or park staff for help!
  3. Bring your completed activity book back for a ranger to review.
  4. Take the oath (Junior Ranger only)!
  5. Congratulations, you are now a Junior Ranger or Junior Eclipse Explorer!

NOTE: Due to expected demand on the day of the eclipse, no Eclipse Explorer books or badges will be mailed out prior to the event. If you wish to complete the activity beforehand, download the Eclipse Explorer booklet online.

B.A.R.K. stands for:

  • Bag your pet’s waste.
  • Always leash your pet.
  • Respect wildlife.
  • Know where you can go.

These principles ensure that your pet has a safe, enjoyable time in our National Parks.

Think your pet has what it takes to become a B.A.R.K. Ranger? Stop by our ranger booth and ask about taking the oath! Complete a short certification to earn a unique, metal dog tag! (While supplies last.)

Big Spring is an amazing backdrop for any photo, and we recommend exploring the area while waiting for the total eclipse. A couple of hand-crafted setpieces will also be available for themed photos.

Merchandise and memorabilia will be on sale from Eastern National and the Ozark Riverways Foundation!

Eastern National is the organization that stocks the Alley General Store and park stores across the country. Eastern National plans to offer eclipse-themed souvenirs. The Ozark Riverways Foundation is the official "friends group" of the park, supporting activities throughout the year. These organizations will offer different selections of goods, so be sure to check out both!

Due to the remote location and high internet traffic during the event, card transactions may not be possible. Please bring cash if you plan on purchasing anything at the event.

The park is hosting Hercules BBQ and HillbillyKettle Corn/Pork Rinds food vendors at the event! Food trucks offer a chance to have a hot meal during an otherwise busy day. These vendors may be the only food service available on the day of the eclipse.

Due to the remote location and high internet traffic during the event, card transactions may not be possible. Please bring cash if you plan on purchasing anything at the event.

 

What is happening the weekend before?

Smokey's hot air balloon will be glowing bright in the night, accompanying our ranger night sky program! Night glow is tentatively planned for 7:30 pm and will last up to 1 hour.

Note: The balloon will stay on the ground during this showing. There will be no rides during the night. Rain, wind, temperature, and humidity will affect the starting time and duration of night glow. Keep an eye on this page or our Facebook page for any updates regarding the balloon. 

Take this rare opportunity to witness Smokey's hot air balloon visiting the Midwest! Smokey measures in at a massive 97 feet tall (with basket) and 72 feet wide (at the brim of the hat)!

This service is made possible by the Friends of Smokey Bear Balloon and Mark Twain National Forest. We thank them for their assistance with this event!

FREE rides are tentatively scheduled for 7:45 am, though this may be pushed back if temperature and humidity are not yet suitable. Rides involve the balloon rising about 50 feet into the air while tethered to ground vehicles. These floats last a few minutes before returning to the ground.

Note: Times are subject to change. High humidity, unfavorable temperatures, or wind/rain may impact hours of operation and/or prevent inflation. Keep an eye on this page or our Facebook page for any updates regarding the hot air balloon's schedule. Otherwise, the number of rides will be limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Air Balloon Ride Restrictions

  • All riders must be able to board and unboard without assistance. Mobility is required to enter the basket.
  • Children must be tall enough to see out the side windows. Children cannot be held in someone else's arms while riding. This presents a risk for falling.
  • Hot air balloons have weight restrictions based on the current wind, temperature, and humidity. This affects the number of people that can ride at a given time. This also means that rides may be unavailable if weather conditions are unsuitable.
  • Whether or not an individual can ride is the pilot's decision. The park makes no guarantees for availability.

Take advantage of the Ozarks’ dark skies! The Ozark National Scenic Riverways offers great viewing, as we have minimal light pollution and a quiet atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy the night sky without distraction. Rangers will provide astronomical interpretation and star-finding during the viewing.

Bring bug spray, chairs or blankets, and flashlights. Telescopes and binoculars are also encouraged.

This viewing will happen alongside the Smokey balloon night glow, making for a spectacular night under the stars.

 
A map showing the 2024 eclipse path over Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Locations south and east of Pulltite are covered fully, while locations north and west of Pulltite are outside the eclipse.
The path of the 2024 total eclipse in the Ozarks. The shaded area represents total eclipse coverage, while the lighter area has only partial eclipse coverage. Be wary of events outside the path of the total eclipse!

NPS / Wil Marischen

Eclipse Coverage

Within the park, the length of the total eclipse gets shorter as you travel north or west. Areas south of Van Buren will have the longest coverage, while areas north and west of Eminence will have the shortest. Go far enough north or west, and there will only be a partial eclipse with no totality. Below is a table listing the length of total eclipse coverage (totality) at locations throughout the park.

Note: There will be no totality at or north of Pulltite. Consult a map of the eclipse path before planning any activities for the day of the eclipse.

The times below are displayed in minutes and seconds (MM:SS).

Location Gooseneck Big Spring Powder Mill Alley Spring Round Spring Echo Bluff Summersville Pulltite
Duration of Totality 4:05 3:53 3:01 2:22 1:32 1:04 0:37 0:00

Eclipse Times

The following times display hours, minutes, and seconds (HH:MM:SS) for each location. These are approximations based on local time (CDT) on the day of the eclipse.


Location

Start of
Partial Eclipse

Start of
Total Eclipse

End of
Total Eclipse

End of
Partial Eclipse

Big Spring

12:39:08

1:55:46

1:59:39

3:15:13

Alley Spring

12:38:48

1:56:04

1:58:26

3:14:34

Powder Mill

12:39:14

1:56:11

1:59:13

3:15:07

Round Spring

12:39:04

1:56:39

1:58:16

3:14:51

 
A graphic poster showing the Big Spring Lodge and Current River under the eclipse. Text reads "Discover the 'OH!' in Ozark, when the sun and moon align with you!"
Big Spring makes an amazing backdrop for the 2024 total eclipse.

Courtesy of Tyler Nordgren

Stay Safe and Protect Your Park

Safe Viewing Practices

If you are within the path of the total eclipse, there will be a brief window where it is safe to view the eclipse without glasses. This window will be announced using the horn of our NPS fire truck! Look and listen for instructions on the day of the eclipse. Outside of totality, there is no point in which it safe to view the sun without properly rated eye protection! We want to ensure everybody has a safe day 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: if you plan on viewing the eclipse, stop your vehicle in a safe place. Safe and lawful parking will be strictly enforced.

Camping & Lodging

During the eclipse, all park campgrounds will be open, barring closures from flooding or other events. Sites at developed campgrounds can be reserved by visiting recreation.gov, with limited first-come, first-served camping available. Backcountry and gravel bar locations will be first-come, first-served only. Camping outside of established campgrounds is strictly prohibited.

For camping or lodging options outside park boundaries, please visit the Eminence camping / lodging page or the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce page. Other nearby options may be found on Missouri Department of Conservation or Mark Twain National Forest lands.

Be sure to verify that the location of your stay is within the path of the total eclipse! Also, as always, please read the rules of your camping/lodging location before booking. Keep natural resources scenic and unspoiled for other visitors.

Emergency Assistance

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, CALL LAW ENFORCEMENT OR SEEK OUT PARK STAFF
Local law enforcement can be reached by calling 911. For emergencies at park locations, you can also reach Arrowhead Dispatch by calling (844) 460-3604.

 

 

Bringing a Pet?

This event is pet-friendly, but everyone must follow the rules for pets in the park. The B.A.R.K. Ranger principles are a good start:

B.A.R.K. stands for:

  • Bag your pet’s waste.
  • Always leash your pet.
  • Respect wildlife.
  • Know where you can go.

For a more in-depth list of rules, regulations, and recommendations, visit our Pets in the Park page.

Think your pet has what it takes to become a B.A.R.K. Ranger? Stop by our ranger booth and ask about taking the oath! Complete a short certification to earn a unique, metal dog tag! (While supplies last.)

 

Other Important Information

Click the tabs below to learn about facilities, services, and need-to-know information.

 

Your view of the eclipse depends on your location and the weather.

Most of Ozark National Scenic Riverways is located on the path of totality across North America, which means it is one of the locations on Earth from which the Moon will appear to block the Sun. 

The following is a timeline specific to Big Spring, just south of Van Buren:

First Contact 12:39 pm: The first phase is called a "Partial Eclipse". This is when the Moon begins to pass in front of the Sun, slowly blocking more and more of the Sun’s light, making the Sun appear as a crescent getting smaller and smaller until it forms a “C” shape.

Second Contact 1:55 pm: "Totality" is when the Moon passes completely in front of the Sun, blocking sunlight in the area. This is the second phase of the eclipse and it lasts between 0 and 5 minutes, depending on where you're viewing it from. At Big Spring, it will be about 4 minutes. During the total eclipse, the sky will turn dark and animals might behave as if it is night.

Third Contact 1:59 pm: The Moon will continue to move across the sun for about an hour and 15 minutes, producing another Partial Eclipse. 

Fourth Contact 3:15 pm: The Moon will continue to move until it no longer overlaps the sun, ending the eclipse.

In 2017, thousands of people visited Missouri for the eclipse. While we don't have an estimate for this year's visitation, we anticipate similar crowds for 2024's eclipse. This has the potential to be one of the busiest single days in the park's history.

Food Services
While local towns have a variety of food options, they will be limited around the day of the eclipse. Large crowds will overwhelm regular food services. Expect to pack food for your group and prepare meals at your campground or lodging.

Restrooms
Permanent restrooms (vault or flush toilets) will be available at their normal locations. At Big Spring's event grounds, there are two permanent bathroom buildings. Portable toilets will be placed around the event area to supplement these buildings.

Water
Water stations will be available at their normal locations.

While supplies last, the park will provide eclipse glasses free-of-charge at the "Zark Side of the Moon" event at Big Spring. A limited number will be available at Alley Spring's info booth.

If you have your own certified eclipse glasses, please bring them! If attendance is high, we cannot guarantee glasses for every visitor. Park supplies may run out faster than anticipated.

During the total eclipse, there will be a brief window where it is safe to view the eclipse without protective eyewear. This window will be announced using the horn of our NPS fire truck! Look and listen for instructions on the day of the eclipse.

However, outside of this window, it is never safe to view the eclipse without specialized eye protection designed for solar viewing. Viewing any part of the sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope will cause immediate severe eye injury.

To safely watch the eclipse directly with your eyes, you must use solar viewing glasses ("eclipse glasses") or a handheld solar viewer at all times. Sunglasses, no matter how dark, are not safe to use for viewing the eclipse. 

If you don't have eclipse glasses or a solar viewer, you can use indirect viewing methods to watch the eclipse. One method is to create a pinhole projector, which has a small opening (like a hole punched out of cardboard), that you can use to project the Sun onto a nearby surface. Stand with your back towards the sun and view the projected image. Never look at the sun through the opening.

Finally, don't forget to wear SPF! If you're viewing the entire eclipse, you will be outside for several hours so remember to wear protective clothing, a hat, and sunscreen to prevent skin damage.

Seating will not be available, and the ground may be wet. Bring a comfortable chair that you can easily carry around the event grounds.
 

Our Partners

This event was made possible in part by the Ozark Riverways Foundation (ORF)! This group is the official friends group for Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Their continued support keeps events free and accessible to the public.

To learn about upcoming events, programs, and volunteer opportunities, visit the ORF Facebook page or the ORF website.

Thanks to Mark Twain National Forest (MTNF) for bringing the Smokey Bear Balloon to Missouri! They will be hosting free balloon activities on April 6-8.

Mark Twain National Forest encompasses 1.5 million acres of beautiful public land in 29 counties of Missouri. They work to maintain a healthy, working forest and restore Missouri's natural communities.

MTNF holds lands surrounding Ozark National Scenic Riverways, offering miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and motorized use. A variety of campgrounds dot the map, hosting semi-primitive and wilderness sites throughout the state. Visit the Mark Twain National Forest website to learn more about their recreation opportunities.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) strives to protect public lands throughout the state. They work alongside Missouri State Parks and the National Park Service to provide educational programs, managed hunts, and other services for our natural resources.

The MDC website is a great resource to learn about hunting, fishing, and conservation efforts throughout the state. For events and stories, visit the MDC Facebook page as well.

Eastern National is a not-for-profit association supporting the interpretive, educational, and scientific programs of the National Park Service and other partners. They provide retail services for national parks throughout the country.

Donations and purchases help fund programs in the parks. Visit the Eastern National website to learn more about their mission and grants.

Thanks to the Carter County Health Center (CCHC) for providing first aid and medical support for this event! They give us peace of mind during this huge event.

Visit the CCHC website for more information on services they provide to the local community.

DarkSky Missouri was founded in 2018, and they are dedicated to restoring Missouri's night skies!

With your help, they hope to reduce light pollution and increase night sky awareness. Visit the DarkSky Missouri website for ways to get involved.
 
 

Last updated: April 9, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 490
Van Buren, MO 63965

Phone:

573 323-4236

Contact Us