On Monday, August 21st, 2017, a solar eclipse—a celestial event where the Moon passes through the Sun and the Earth—will take place. According to NASA, a solar eclipse can cast a shadow on Earth’s surface up to 168 miles wide. This shadow is referred to as the path of totality, and locations within this path will experience a total solar eclipse, when the moon’s disc completely covers the sun, causing temperatures to drop and the sky to darken.
This year, the solar eclipse forms a path of totality across the continental United States for the first time in 38 years. The path will begin at Lincoln Beach, Oregon and continue through Charleston, South Carolina. We’ve compiled a list of the best places in the U.S. to experience the magic of a total solar eclipse, so grab your solar viewing glasses and prepare for a once in a lifetime opportunity!
Head to Carbondale, Illinois this August to witness the longest moment of totality. At Shawnee National Forest, just south of Carbondale, the total solar eclipse will last for 2 minutes and 44 seconds, starting around 1:20PM CDT. If you decide to stay in Carbondale for the eclipse, you’ll catch 2 minutes and 38 seconds of totality. Plus, there is plenty to do in this campus town! Southern Illinois University is hosting an event for the eclipse at Saluki Stadium, concluding a weekend-long festival on campus grounds, complete with a carnival, food, and entertainment.
Be one of the first to witness the eclipse in its totality by visiting Lincoln City, Oregon. Watch the eclipse from Lincoln Beach, starting at 9:05AM PDT. When you’re not at the beach, spend your stay in Lincoln City, dining at restaurants, catching live entertainment, or visiting the Glass Art Studio.
If you appreciate hiking, camping, and beautiful scenery, catch the solar eclipse from one of the few National Parks that lie in the path of totality. The first park to witness totality is Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Here, you’ll take in views of the gorgeous Teton Mountain Range, immaculate lakes, and abundant wildlife.
On the border of North Carolina and Tennessee lies the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where you can view the solar eclipse with a side of scenery. According to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website, this is America’s most visited park, most likely due to its diversification in plant and animal life. During your stay, keep an eye out for the black bears that reside at the park, or the flowers that bloom nearly year-round.
In Georgia, the solar eclipse sweeps over Black Rock Mountain State Park for about 2 minutes and 36 seconds. For the remainder of your visit here, take a sunset hike across the park or join in on a bonfire! The park’s website is constantly updated with a list of events, so be sure to check ahead.
In Charleston, South Carolina, you’ll get to experience the eclipse leaving the country around 2:49PM EDT. Whether you have young children, like to relax, prefer to be active, or want a romantic getaway, Charleston has much to offer for all ages and families. Check out this First Timer’s Guide to Charleston to plan your stay.
While you will be able to experience at least a partial solar eclipse from anywhere in the U.S., these 5 State Capitals lie in the path of totality and make great travel destinations:
Wherever you decide to watch the solar eclipse, please remember to wear protective eyewear, even in totality. Looking directly at the sun can cause serious eye damage or blindness. For tips on how to safely observe a solar eclipse, take a look at this article from NASA.