Prepare to be dazzled in 2024 as a total solar eclipse will sweep across several U.S. states on Monday, April 8th, darkening the skies from Texas to Maine. The experience of watching the moon slide in front of the sun during a solar eclipse can be both an awe-inspiring and humbling experience, so this is a rare astronomical event that is certainly worth adding to your travel itinerary.
In America, the totality will be visible across parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. But to witness the drama unfold, you will need to be within the 115-mile-wide path of totality.
Four stellar spots from which to gaze at the spectacle, are listed below, including the iconic Niagara Falls, and Arkansas’ Hot Springs National Park and Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the only two U.S. national parks located in the eclipse’s direct path.
The Hill Country, Texas
Texas’ Hill Country is first on our list, the region sitting right in the path of totality. By all accounts, it’s set to be a memorable event in this part of America, as while North America witnessed a total eclipse in 2017, Texas hasn’t experienced one since 1397. This part of the Lone Star State more than meets the criteria for prime-time viewing, with visibility hinging on two factors: location (the Hill Country anticipates nearly four and a half minutes of totality) and weather (for the majority of the year, the region is blessed with sunny skies).
Draped in undulating landscapes crisscrossed by spring-fed rivers, the Hill Country is one of the most picturesque areas in the state, and Enchanted Rock is a great place to put your best foot forward, as there are 8.4 miles of trails to explore. Combine hiking, birding, and geocaching with spectacular panoramic views from the summit of its ancient dome, a 425-foot pink granite batholith that was once part of a large pool of magma. In need of a little light refreshment? There are also 100 wineries and vineyards in the region, and Fredericksburg, the epicentre of Texas’ wine country, is home to around 50. With the eclipse scheduled into your itinerary, that’s all the more reason to sample the area’s varietals, including Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, or Marsanne, and raise a glass in the tranquil Texas countryside.
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
National parks are excellent destinations to marvel at the coming wonder, and lucky for eclipse enthusiasts, Arkansas’s Hot Springs National Park will have the honour of being the first national park to witness totality. “The Spa City” is situated around halfway between the centerline and the eastern edge of the eclipse path, with totality lasting approximately 3 minutes and 37 seconds in downtown Hot Springs.
Surrounded by miles of walking and biking trails and complete with a rewarding overlook where visitors can see for more than 140 square miles, the park is the perfect base for some breathtaking hikes. And what could be a better complement to an exhilarating adventure than a curative dip in the springs themselves? Established in 1912 and one of eight bathhouses that were built in the 1900s, the historic Buckstaff Hot Springs Bathhouse, situated on the famous Bathhouse Row, still offers traditional bathing experiences. Good for soaking and imbibing, the springs are a main ingredient in Superior Bathhouse Brewery’s craft beer—the only brewery found within official national park boundaries.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
A nostalgic vantage point for the upcoming eclipse, Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Cleveland promises nearly four minutes of darkness. The last total solar eclipse made an appearance in this same spot on June 16, 1806. At that point, Cleveland was a mere woodland settlement amidst Native American tribes—not even a village. See the historic report below:
On the 16th of June, a total eclipse of the sun occurred, which, for a short time, produced in the shady forest the darkness of night.
– Early History of Cleveland, Ohio, Col. Chas. Whittlesey (1867)
Now the largest city on Lake Erie and one of America’s best-kept secrets, the musically renowned metropolis regularly features world-class concerts by the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (the city is said to be the birthplace of this musical genre) houses collections and artefacts from some of the best rock ‘n’ roll musicians of all time. There’s also a burgeoning culinary scene, complete with guided food tours of the historic West Side Market, lively neighbourhoods, waterfront attractions, and a thriving arts community.
Niagara Falls, New York State
Niagara Falls will claim nearly four minutes of totality, and as the New York State destination is teaming up with NASA, this is set to be an exciting time to visit. To celebrate the occasion, a string of events is currently being planned to run from April 4th, with scientists, astronomy experts, and even astronauts hoping to share their wisdom and inspire visitors. Two prime totality viewing points in the 400-acre Niagara Falls State Park include Prospect Point and Goat Island, as both offer fabulous views of the falls and unobstructed skies for optimum celestial satisfaction. A top tip, experts claim the view to the southwest above Horseshoe Falls, will be magnificent, and best from the U.S. side—the falls spanning the border with Canada.
Alternatively, take a 10-minute drive north and head for Whirlpool State Park, where the eclipse will be set to the rhythm of the roaring Niagara River Rapids. Of course, for a closer encounter with the falls themselves, the Maid of the Mist boat tours will allow you to feel the true power of this force of nature: the park’s network of hiking trails and a zipline, among other equally thrilling ways to enjoy this landmark destination.
For more information on the holidays we offer at Frontier America, and to book, call us on 020 8776 8709 or email us at America@frontier-travel.co.uk. ATOL PROTECTED No 5405 ABTA W3207.