If you've never seen a total eclipse of the sun, you're in for a rare treat. This August 21 a complete solar eclipse will be visible across a 67-mile-wide swath from Oregon to South Carolina. Luckily this broad viewing pathway covers much of the western Smokies. So, you can witness this awesome event amid breathtaking mountain scenery.
For an especially clear view (weather permitting), come to Cable Mill at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here Park staff will host informal, guided viewing, with helpful info on solar science. The event is free of charge, and no reservations are required. However, it's best to arrive early. Vehicle access may be closed once parking and/or roads become crowded.
Of course, you can also view the total eclipse from other parts of the Park. You don't even need guides or tickets. But, again, crowds are expected, so come as early as you can. And be prepared for heavy traffic, especially on more popular roads and trails.
Tips for Viewing the Total Eclipse
During a total solar eclipse, the moon blocks the entire sun except for its outer corona, a fiery white aura. It's a spectacular sight – turning day into dark – and it hasn't been seen here in decades. In fact, the last total solar eclipse visible in the continental U.S. occurred in 1979. Even then, it was observable mainly in the Pacific Northwest, where cloudy skies partly obscured it.
That means this is your first chance in nearly 40 years to witness this solar phenomenon. However, caution is needed. You can severely damage your eyes if you stare directly into the sun. Therefore, we strongly suggest that you use special viewing glasses. A limited number will be available within the Park; advance purchase is recommended. Or, you may obtain your own pair at your favorite sporting-goods store.
During the two-minute window when the moon covers the sun – the height of the eclipse – you can safely remove your glasses to enjoy the historic spectacle. But be sure to put them back on once this brief period passes.
Beyond the Eclipse: Mountains of Fun
Of course, the eclipse isn't the only thrilling thing happening here this summer. You'll find plenty of other delights, from hiking the scenic trails to dining in world-famous restaurants. Not to mention tubing, boating, rafting, kayaking, zip lining, fishing, and more. Plus shopping, museum-hopping, and theater & concert going. All against the backdrop of stunning mountain scenery... with those cooler mountain temps that make the Smokies so refreshing in August.
Book Your Smoky Mountain Getaway Early
Late summer is a popular vacation time, so even without eclipses, reservations fill up fast. Don't delay. Contact Volunteer Cabin Rentals today to book your comfortable cabin retreat. Then join us for R&R in beautiful Wears Valley.
Located just minutes from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, we offer a wide range of rentals, from cozy chalets to extra-large luxury cabins. All provide premium amenities such as full kitchens, hot tubs, fireplaces, and breathtaking views. Make your August reservation now.
Jon Hoffman is Reservations Manager of Volunteer Cabin Rentals specializing in Smoky Mountain cabins near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN. Visit them today at http://www.volunteercabinrentals.com to book cabins for weddings, vacations, reunions and other special events.