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.
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. The Clingmans Dome tower will be limited to MEDIA ACCESS ONLY, but there are many opportunities for viewing from the parking area and along the 0.5 mile trail to the tower. 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. NASA will be streaming live from Clingmans Dome and other locations around the country. Watch the NASA Livestream on August 21. 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.
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.
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!
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.