There are few experiences more awe-inspiring than witnessing a total solar eclipse. Watching the moon slowly bite chunks out of the sun, feeling the temperature drop, and finally seeing the sun’s corona during the eclipse totality – it’s enough to flip your brain upside down. This year, millions of people will be able to see just how it feels on April 8th, when the Great North American Eclipse carves a path across the United States. It will be 20 more years before the continental U.S. has this chance again.

While the eclipse of 2017 was thrilling, this April’s eclipse is set to be even more spectacular, as the length of the totality – the time when the sun is completely blocked by the moon – will be twice as long. It’s well worth traveling to experience.

Where Can I See The Eclipse?

The sun’s corona is visible during totality.
The sun’s corona is visible during totality. “2017 Total Solar Eclipse” by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

When deciding where to view the eclipse, you’ll want to consider weather – not only will it be warm or cold, but crucially, will it be sunny? You’ll also need to decide if you want to spend this event in a city, in nature, or in a place with access to both. In all these regards, one of your best bets is to plan to spend the Great North American Eclipse in Arkansas. The line of totality cuts right through the state, giving you eclipse viewing options ranging from cities to mountains, in the middle of a lake or in the middle of a music festival. We’ve rounded up some amazing options, below.


Central to Festivals and Fishing.

Mount Nebo State Park offers mountain biking trails and expansive views.
Mount Nebo State Park offers mountain biking trails and expansive views. Courtesy of Arkansas Tourism

Russellville, a city of 30,000, is a great place to see the eclipse while also getting a taste of everything Arkansas has to offer. It’s near the center of the path of the eclipse, and will experience 4 minutes, 11 seconds of a totally eclipsed sun. It even has its own website aggregating eclipse events. These include hot air balloon rides, a “Moon Over Main” festival featuring a presentation from NASA, and a mass wedding event called “Elope In The Eclipse.”

Though it’s a city with abundant lodging and dining options, it’s also a good access point to nature, as it borders Lake Dardanelle, a 34,300-acre reservoir on the Arkansas River. Lake Dardanelle State Park offers opportunities for fishing, swimming, kayaking, and camping, and has a visitor center with five aquariums.

Russellville is also only ten miles from Mount Nebo State Park, where you can watch the eclipse from the summit of the 1,350-foot mountain. Spend the weekend before hiking or mountain biking on the 32.6 miles of trails, swimming in the park’s swimming pool, playing tennis, or even hang gliding.


A National Park and Historic Downtown.

Buckstaff is one of eight historic bathhouses at Hot Springs National Park.
Buckstaff is one of eight historic bathhouses at Hot Springs National Park. Courtesy of Arkansas Tourism

Hot Springs is an ideal location to view the Great North American Eclipse. It’s got it all: fancy resorts, tent camping, hiking trails, a gangster museum, and – crucially – 3 minutes and 37 seconds of totality. Based on weather from the last five years of April 8ths, it’s likely to experience sun and clouds and pleasant temperatures on the day of.

There are only two National Parks in the line of the totality, and one of them is Arkansas’ Hot Springs National Park. The park consists of a row of historic bath houses fed by natural springs in the area, as well as nearby protected natural areas including trails, carriage roads, and an observation tower.

Organizations across Hot Springs and the surrounding area are celebrating the eclipse with a weekend full of events. On April 4th, Hot Springs is hosting a presentation from NASA and a public blues concert. The Mid-America Science Museum is hosting a Total Solar Eclipse Weekend with planetarium shows and eclipse viewing, the Garvan Woodland Gardens is offering early entry and food trucks, and the Oaklawn Racing Casino is having an event with live music. For those hoping to experience the event surrounded by mountains, Atlas Obscura is hosting its 2024 Ecliptic Festival three miles from downtown Hot Springs in Cedar Glades Park, as a joint event with the 20th annual Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival. This is just a fraction of the events!

The plethora of viewing parties and festivals means that Hot Springs is likely to be a popular destination on April 8, so make your reservations as soon as possible (lodging options are aggregated here). If you’re willing to drive, consider camping in the Ouachita National Forest, which is at the center of the path of totality, or even staying an hour away in Little Rock, which will also experience the totality (though only 2 minutes and 20 seconds of it).


Rural Rapids.

Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area.
Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area. “Cossatot River State Park” by thigpen.robert

Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area is the Arkansas State Park that will experience the longest duration of totality, with a full 4 minutes and 18.5 seconds to watch the sun’s corona. The park is a great option if you’d prefer to see the eclipse in nature a little further away from major population centers. You can make a weekend out of canoeing or kayaking the Cossatot River, including the Class IV rapids of Cossatot Falls, or hiking the park’s nearly 20 miles of trails. Limited camping is available.


Moon Over Main Street USA.

Award-winning Greers Ferry Lake is one of the biggest lakes in Arkansas.
Award-winning Greers Ferry Lake is one of the biggest lakes in Arkansas. Courtesy of Arkansas Tourism

The town of Heber Springs will get 4 minutes, 2.4 seconds of totality, with the partial eclipse starting at 12:35pm and the totality starting at 1:52 p.m. It’s the perfect place to spend eclipse weekend if you’d like to have access to the amenities of a town but be somewhere a little more quaint than a proper city. Heber Springs has a town square, a courthouse, and a restored one-screen art deco movie theater playing new releases. Accommodations include resorts, cabins, and campgrounds.

The town is also a great jumping off point for outdoor activities given its location on Greers Ferry Lake, one of the largest lakes in Arkansas, offering the unique opportunity to view the eclipse from a body of water. To round out your weekend you can check out the mineral springs in nearby Springs Park and the hiking and mountain biking trails at Sugarloaf Mountain.


A Rustic Lodge on a Bluff.

The 95-foot-tall Cedar Falls in Petit Jean State Park is in the path of totality.
The 95-foot-tall Cedar Falls in Petit Jean State Park is in the path of totality. Courtesy of Arkansas Tourism

This state park in central Arkansas will be treated to 4 minutes and 15 seconds of total solar eclipse. From its overlooks of the surrounding mountains, you’ll be able to watch darkness sweep over the rest of Arkansas. Petit Jean is a park well worth spending some time exploring, with a 95-foot-tall waterfall, as well as canyons, forests, streams, and a natural bridge.. The state park also offers a boat launch, swimming pools, playgrounds, and a tennis and basketball court.

Lodging options include campsites, cabins, yurts, and rooms at the rustic-style Mather Lodge. Overlooking Cedar Creek Canyon, Mather Lodge offers a restaurant as well. It was built – as were many of the cabins, bridges, roads, and trails in the park – by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.


Elk on the Buffalo River.

The Buffalo National River, near Yellville.
The Buffalo National River, near Yellville. “Buffalo National River” by string_bass_dave

Yellville, a small town in northern Arkansas, can serve as a launching point to spend the day of the eclipse in a number of different natural areas. The town itself will see 2 minutes and 47 seconds of totality, but to the south the Buffalo National River will have even longer. That area, a National Park Service unit, offers canoeing, fishing, hiking, rock climbing, caving, and horseback riding. The river flows past tall bluffs and its banks are home to a herd of approximately 600 elk; it’s hard to think of a more idyllic place to experience the wonders of the eclipse. Closer to Yellville, Crooked Creek also provides great opportunities for hiking and for smallmouth bass fishing.


The Perfect Place for Music Lovers.

Jonesboro is a vibrant city with easy access to nature.
Jonesboro is a vibrant city with easy access to nature. Courtesy of Arkansas Tourism

Jonesboro will only experience 2 minutes 21.5 seconds of totality, but it’s the perfect home base to spend an eclipse weekend exploring both cities and nature. On the day of the eclipse, driving north or west will take you into areas that experience longer durations of totality. And staying in Jonesboro (lodging options here) allows you to experience the city. Home to nearly 80,000 people and Arkansas State University, Jonesboro is one of the more progressive cities in the state. And for music lovers, it’s only an hour drive away from both Johnny Cash’s boyhood home in Dyess, Arkansas, and from Memphis, Tennessee.

How Can I Do This Without Going Blind?

Eye safety is paramount when viewing the eclipse.
Eye safety is paramount when viewing the eclipse. Shutterstock

Never look directly at the sun! It’s not like the sun during an eclipse has special powers – looking at the sun on any old day has the potential to cause permanent eye damage and blindness. It’s just that you’re less likely to stare at the sun on a day when there isn’t a total solar eclipse.

To watch the sun during an eclipse, you need special safety glasses. (Sunglasses are not good enough, nor are x-rays, exposed film, or most welder’s glasses.) Because fake glasses proliferated online during the 2017 eclipse, it’s best to buy your eclipse glasses directly from a manufacturer or certified seller. The American Astronomical Society has a round-up of trusted sellers here.

During the totality, when the sun is entirely blocked by the moon, it’s safe to take your glasses off to look at the corona. (Don’t worry, the world doesn’t become pitch black during the totality – it remains about as bright out as a night with a full moon.) But the moment a sliver of the sun reappears, you need to go back to using your eclipse glasses.

Anything Else I Should Know?

There are many safe ways to view an eclipse.
There are many safe ways to view an eclipse. “Grand Canyon National Park: Annular Eclipse Viewing 1259” by Grand Canyon NPS

If you can’t see the sun, you can’t see the eclipse, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast the day of April 8 and be prepared to drive to an area with clearer skies if need be.

As the moon begins to obscure the sun, temperatures usually drop about ten degrees, though they sometimes drop as much as twenty. Be sure to bring a sweater or jacket.

Arkansas expects heavy traffic preceding and following the eclipse. Traffic conditions will be updated in real time here.

To find out the exact start time of the partial and total eclipse wherever you end up, you can use this interactive Google map.

Small towns may be overloaded with visitors during eclipse weekend, so it’s a good idea to stock up on food and gas early. Because cell coverage and WiFi may be slow, it’s also smart to carry cash and to have a physical map of where you’re trying to go.

A full list of events, weather information, and FAQs about experiencing the Great North American Eclipse in Arkansas can be found on Arkansas’s website here.