On August 21, we'll be treated to one of the universe's biggest celestial events--- a total solar eclipse. Parts of East Tennessee will be in the path of totality, and there are many great places to watch, but many people want to enjoy the show in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The big daddy of viewing areas in the Smokies — Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Smokies — will have a spectacular all-day viewing event. But the ticketed affair has long been sold out.
There are many other places in the southwestern part of the park that will experience totality, with places to picnic including front-country areas Cades Cove and Oconaluftee.
The park has posted information on their website with info about watching the eclipse and an interactive map to help people find a site close to the center line.
Backcountry sites that lie within the path of totality are 83 percent booked. Front-country sites that require reservations that lie within the path of totality are fully booked, including Cades Cove, Elkmont and Smokemont. Front-country campsites outside of the path of totality still have availability and can be reserved through recreation.gov.
"It's hard to estimate how many people may come to the park to experience the eclipse, but we understand that many people want to be in a natural area free of artificial lights and sounds when totality happens," said park spokeswoman Dana Soehn.
Clingmans Dome Road is the only park road closed during the solar eclipse, but park visitors should be prepared for high volume traffic across all roads, she said. Vehicles cannot stop in the roadway and must be parked in designated parking areas. If roads become congested or cause a safety concern, rangers may temporarily close them.
The vast meadow at Cades Cove, on the Tennessee side of the Smokies is one of the most popular destinations in the park. The park will host a free, informal experiential learning eclipse program at Cable Mill, which will experience totality for 2 minutes, 5 seconds. Once parking is full, though, access to Cades Cove area will be closed traffic.
Oconaluftee Visitor Center, with its adjacent field at Mountain Farm on the North Carolina side, will experience totality for 1 minute, 3 seconds. There will also be a free program here.
The Great Smoky Mountains Association is selling the Outdoor Recreation Regional Eclispe map at smokiesinformation.org to help plan your day.
Wherever you go, make sure it's not deep in the forest or surrounded by trees. While lovely to look at, they will ruin a view of the sky.
The Citizen-Times contributed to this report.
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