Blog Post Linda Coutant Mar 6, 2024

8 Parks for Experiencing April 8’s Solar Eclipse

Get your safety glasses ready! A total solar eclipse April 8 will be seen from Texas to Maine, crossing over 27 national park sites. Check out a few of the parks planning festivities around this event.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon and Earth all line up. The moon appears to cover the entire sun, except for its corona, creating a moon shadow. The path of totality for the April 8 eclipse will stretch from Texas to Maine, with a partial eclipse visible across half the continent.

National parks can offer up terrific spaces for experiencing an eclipse, and the National Park Service has been gearing up for increased visitation at many of its sites — including 27 within the path of totality. Using data from NASA, the Park Service offers a map of the April 8 eclipse’s path, which contains links to park calendar pages for special events (Pro tip: Search the webpage’s calendar for April 8).

The Park Service also offers instructions on how to observe an eclipse safely, wherever you may be located.

Another total solar eclipse won’t cross parts of the continental United States until Aug. 23, 2044, so now’s a great chance to witness this natural phenomenon.

Here are eight park sites, in alphabetical order, where you can view the eclipse in its totality.

Amistad National Recreation Area, Texas

Amistad is a Spanish word meaning friendship. This recreation area borders Mexico and preserves a large reservoir where visitors come for fishing, swimming, scuba diving, camping, bow hunting, bird watching, boating, paddling and hiking. Other than the lake, Amistad’s landscape is deceptively desert-like. But don’t be fooled, the region receives about 18 inches of rain a year. The park site also features a wildlife phenomenon — the fall migration of monarch butterflies. Thousands pass through Amistad and roost in its trees as the butterflies make their way from the Great Lakes to Mexico.

Amistad will experience 3 minutes and 25 seconds of total eclipse, with partial eclipse viewing between 12:10 and 3 p.m. Central Time. The park site offers a webpage on what to expect and how to prepare for the eclipse. The nearby town of Del Rio will host a Solar Eclipse Fest.

Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, Rhode Island and Massachusetts

The Blackstone River gave rise to the American Industrial Revolution when the nation’s first water-powered cotton spinning mill opened along its banks in 1790. More textile mills soon sprang up along the 46-mile waterway, drawing immigrant workers from Canada, Europe and Latin America who added their cultural influences to the area.

The park’s River Bend Farm Visitor Center in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, will host an event beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern Time. The eclipse is expected to begin just after 2 p.m. and last about 2.5 hours. Check the park’s webpage for event details.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

This urban park preserves 22 miles of the Cuyahoga River and the mosaic of natural and man-made features surrounding it. The river used to contain so much pollution that it caught fire more than a dozen times. Its last fire in 1969 spurred creation of the Clean Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the first Earth Day celebration.

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With polluters held accountable, the river is safer for drinking, swimming and fishing. The Cuyahoga’s renewal and recovery has led to stronger clean water protections across the country — and because the river flows into Lake Erie via Cleveland, its improved health positively affects the Great Lakes environment, too.

The nonprofit organization Expeditions in Education will provide a live stream of the total solar eclipse to classrooms across the country from the park via Zoom. Designed for teachers and students, the event will include educational activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time. It is made possible through collaboration with the park, National Park Foundation and Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, Indiana

This historical park in the city of Vincennes honors the American colonel who led about 170 frontiersmen on an 18-day trek, at times through freezing floodwaters, to defeat the British who controlled Fort Sackwell. With that February 1779 victory, George Rogers Clark is credited with opening a vast area of land west of the Appalachian Mountains to American expansion. That territory now includes Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and the eastern portion of Minnesota.

Eclipse viewing will be held on the park grounds from 1 to 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Check the park’s webpage for event details.

James A. Garfield National Historic Site, Ohio

From the front porch of this Victorian-era home in Mentor, Ohio, James Garfield launched and conducted much of his presidential campaign of 1880. The porch now serves as gateway to the story of the 20th U.S. president’s life and sudden death by assassination just 200 days after taking office.

Due to space limitations on site, the Park Service is partnering with NASA and the City of Mentor to provide outdoor activities during the eclipse at Mentor Civic Amphitheater from 1 to 5 p.m. Eastern Time. The total eclipse is expected to come into view at 3:14 p.m. for 3 minutes and 48 seconds. The progress of the eclipse also will be tracked on video screens. Check the park site’s eclipse webpage for event details.

Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial, Ohio

This park site honors naval commander Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory over a British fleet in the War of 1812, an accomplishment that gave Americans control of Lake Erie and its important trade access. The site also celebrates the long-lasting peace among Canada, Great Britain and the U.S.

The last total solar eclipse visible in Ohio was in 1806. The memorial invites viewers to see the eclipse from its lawn, where 3 minutes and 18 seconds of totality are expected. The visitor center will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time and offer ranger programs. Details are available on the park’s solar eclipse webpage.

Roger Williams National Memorial, Rhode Island

This park site commemorates Roger Williams’ contributions to religious freedom. The urban, 4.5-acre greenspace in downtown Providence is where the Puritan minister founded a settlement in 1636. Williams fought for the separation of church and state, believing that religion should be a matter of individual conscience rather than a regulation of government.

The eclipse is expected to begin just after 2 p.m. Eastern Time at the memorial and last about 2.5 hours. Check the memorial’s webpage for event details.

Women’s Rights National Historical Park, New York

The last time a total solar eclipse passed over Seneca Falls, New York — in January 1925 — women had had the legal right to vote for just over four years. This year’s eclipse will pass over the first national park dedicated to women’s rights. This historical park tells the story of the first Women’s Rights Convention held in the summer of 1848, and the ongoing struggle for civil rights, human rights and equality.

Women’s Rights National Historical Park will host a free viewing event on the lawn of its Elizabeth Cady Stanton House from 1 to 4 p.m. Eastern Time. This will be the only chance to witness a total eclipse in Seneca Falls for at least another 200 years. Check the park’s webpage for event details.

Eclipses of the past

Celestial phenomena, from meteor showers to blood moons, routinely attract excitement. And while total solar eclipses are not exactly common (you can read about NPCA staff member experiences of the last total eclipse in 2017 in our our blog and magazine), the sun and moon put on other aah-worthy shows with some regularity.

Last fall, in fact, national parks hosted events for an annular solar eclipse, which occurs when the moon is too far from the Earth to completely obscure the sun and creates a ring of bright sunlight called a “ring of fire.” That eclipse crossed the sky from Oregon to Texas, passing 29 national parks.

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About the author

  • Linda Coutant Staff Writer

    As staff writer on the Communications team, Linda Coutant manages the Park Advocate blog and coordinates the monthly Park Notes e-newsletter distributed to NPCA’s members and supporters.