Know Before You Go: North Carolina and the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Know Before You Go: North Carolina and the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Time is running out to be a part of this natural phenomenon in North Carolina

Summer in North Carolina has never been short on experiences that delight, but this year the wow-factor will be truly astronomical. On Monday, Aug. 21, North Carolina's visitors and residents will witness a total solar eclipse. It's the first of its kind to cross the nation from Pacific to Atlantic since 1918, and North Carolina is one of only 12 states in the path of totality.

Here you'll find planning and safety tips, plus a list of total solar eclipse viewing locations.

What Is a Total Solar Eclipse?

A total solar eclipse occurs when our moon aligns to completely cover the sun. That path of totality will cross over Western North Carolina starting at 2:33 p.m. Aug. 21, where witnesses will be momentarily surrounded by darkness, and the sun’s corona will be visible.

While observers outside the path of totality - like those in Charlotte and Asheville - will still see a partial solar eclipse, it's witnessing the totality that makes this a truly rare and extraordinary North Carolina event.

Safety and Trip Planning

Whether you’re planning a long getaway or just coming for the day, we want your eclipse experience in North Carolina to be as safe and easy as it is extraordinary. Download the ReadyNC mobile app and follow these tips for the best trip possible.

Eclipse Glasses
For all but the brief moments of totality, a solar eclipse can only be safely viewed through special eclipse glasses or other viewers containing solar filters. Camera lenses, telescopes, ordinary sunglasses and other optical devices do not offer adequate eye protection. Many destinations in North Carolina will provide eclipse glasses, and the American Astronomical Society has compiled a directory of reputable vendors of eclipse glasses and viewers. (Be aware of fake solar eclipse glasses.)

Early Arrival
There are a variety of festivals and events being planned in the North Carolina towns and counties that lie along the path of totality, but many accommodations and ticketed events will book up or sell out. Make sure to plan as far in advance as possible to ensure you’re all set to go by the big day.

Traffic Safety
Expect higher volumes of traffic immediately leading up to the eclipse. Make sure to pay attention to traffic advisories, and stay alert on the road. If possible, plan your trip so you can arrive a little early and leave a little late to avoid the heaviest traffic times. Get real-time traffic updates from the North Carolina Department of Transportation at DriveNC.gov.

Summertime Safety
As with any summertime activities, make sure to stay hydrated and adequately protected from the sun. If your eclipse-viewing plans include watching while outside, make sure to drink plenty of water and apply sunscreen regularly.

Stay Put
Do not try to watch the eclipse or take photographs while driving. Once you’ve secured your eclipse-viewing spot, make sure to stay alert for other pedestrians or drivers who may still be searching for a spot. Do not park along the interstate or shoulder to watch the eclipse, and make sure not to wear your eclipse glasses while you are driving.

Places to View the Total Solar Eclipse

Many of the North Carolina towns and cities that lie along the path of totality are planning their own special events and celebrations. Explore our list below, and be sure to check each destination’s updates on ticketing, availability and more.

Caney Fork Overlook

Caney Fork is one of several overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway that will experience totality

Bryson City

Bryson City sits directly in the 70-mile path of totality and will play host to a weekend full of eclipse activities in the Great Smoky Mountains. Full Details and Event Descriptions >>

RR Train Depot
Head to the Depot on Everett Street for a downtown block party.

Swain County Event Park
A ticket for the Swain County Event Park includes parking, live music, food trucks and special viewing glasses.

Darnell Farms
Enjoy live music, food and a view of the total eclipse from the open fields at Darnell Farms.

Highlands

Experience the total eclipse surrounded by the scenic drives, hikes and waterfalls of the Nantahala National Forest in Highlands. Full Details and Event Descriptions >>

Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park
Enjoy all-day eclipse events at Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park including yoga, hikes, the Twilight 5k and a concert.

Franklin

Downtown Franklin is hosting a block party complete with music, activities for the kids and a limited number of EclipSmart Solar Binoculars for viewing. Full Details and Event Descriptions >>

Haywood County

Surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains, several towns in Haywood County are getting in on the action. Full Details and Event Descriptions >>

Canton
Enjoy a box lunch by scenic Lake Logan while watching the eclipse.

Maggie Valley
The experience begins around noon in a meadow a mile high on Fie Top Mountain, featuring a chuckwagon cookout and Native American storyteller. Event will be limited to guests staying at Cataloochee Ranch and only 100 tickets will be sold to outside attendees.

Jackson County

Four mountain towns in Jackson County are in the path of totality and planning exciting eclipse celebrations. Full Details and Event Descriptions >>

Cashiers
Head to the Village Green for viewing festivities including food trucks, breweries and musicians.

Cullowhee
Prepare for the eclipse by joining in the 2-mile Moonlight Run Aug. 19.

Dillsboro
Gazers will gather at Monteith Park in Dillsboro for food, kids' activities and more.

Sylva
Grab an eclipse-themed beer from two of Sylva’s breweries while enjoying the festivities around Bridge Park throughout the weekend leading up to the main celestial event.

Transylvania County

Known as the Land of Waterfalls, Transylvania County’s more than 250 mountain cascades create a unique backdrop for the astronomical experience. Full Details and Event Descriptions >>

Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI)
The viewing location of choice for more than 300 amateur astronomers, PARI will host a team of NASA scientists who will be conducting eclipse experiments at this location in the Pisgah National Forest.

Gorges State Park
With a setting amid plunging waterfalls, rugged river gorges and sheer rock walls, Gorges State Park is hosting a three-day family festival that includes guided hikes, exhibitions, music and food trucks. Complete List of Eclipse Events at North Carolina State Parks >>

Brevard College
Telescopes are welcome on the “front lawn” of Brevard College during a special gathering to view the celestial events.

Brevard Music Center
Make it a long weekend at Brevard Music Center, where the 180-acre campus will feature Lyle Lovett and His Large Band in concert, movie screenings at an open-air auditorium, unobstructed viewing of the eclipse, on-site lodging and more.

Other Spots in Western North Carolina

Experience totality for more than two minutes in these Western North Carolina towns.

Andrews
Known as Totality Town, Andrews will enjoy totality for 2 minutes and 38.4 seconds. Join viewing festivities at Hall Park.

Murphy
Official viewing sites in Murphy include Konehete Park and Tri-County Community College.

Robbinsville
Join the Stecoah Valley Center for food, drinks and educational activities on their 10-acre campus.

More FROM VISITNC.COM

There’s much to see and do in North Carolina, so read on.

Request your Travel Guide

Download or order FREE guides and maps

Discover Project Project 543

Explore unique spots across North Carolina