This August, a truly rare astronomical event is taking place across the United States. On Monday, August 21st, a total solar eclipse will cross the entirety of the continental US—and trust us, you’re going to want to be camping for it.
To experience the full effect of the total eclipse, you’ll have to make a pilgrimage to somewhere within the “path of totality”—a 70-mile-wide arc that crosses 13 states from Oregon to South Carolina. Starting at 10:15 a.m. in Madras, OR, the Sun, Moon and Earth will perfectly align, casting the Moon’s shadow upon the Earth, and fully darkening the daytime sky. That’s right—if you’re in the path of totality, you’ll be able to see a starry sky sometime around noon. (You’ll still be able to view a partial eclipse from anywhere outside of this path, but it won’t be as cool.)
A solar eclipse of this stature has never crossed the contiguous United States, and won’t again until April 2024. If you haven’t started planning your Eclipse camping trip, now’s the time to get on it. Public campgrounds, hotels, motels, and your buddies’ couches within the path of totality have been booked for months, but there are hundreds of places you can still camp along the path. Hipcamp has been partnering with landowners to add new eclipse-viewing campsites every day.
Reserving a campsite within the path of totality before making the trek to the path is a MUST. As you can imagine, tens of thousands of other nature lovers will be flocking there as well. Trying to score a first-come, first-serve site during this camping extravaganza is going to be as hard as it gets—you’ll want to be prepared.
You can find every campsite (677 and growing) in the path of totality with our handy Eclipse camping page. New camps get added to Hipcamp every day, so if you don’t see availability in your region right away, check back.
In search of an affordable option? We rounded up all the available camps under $100 bucks for ya.
Know someone with land in the path of totality? They should host campers! Send them here.
Equip thyself to safely view the Eclipse
You probably remember being told this a million times as a kid, but you should never look directly into the sun because the sun’s rays can cause serious damage to your eyes. The safest way to view the eclipse in all its stages is to get special eclipse viewing glasses—these ain’t your average shades, but special glasses that block out the harmful rays. They can cost less than a dollar a piece if you order a pack of 20 — so rally a group and enjoy matching stunners.
There are several other ways of safely viewing the eclipse, like making a pinhole projector (remember those?). Here's some additional safety information.
Plan your trip – a checklist
- Getting there: Plan additional travel time getting to and from wherever you’re viewing the Eclipse, especially if you’re traveling within the path of totality. People are saying this will be the most viewed Eclipse of all time—so you won’t be the only one out there!
The “totality” (the time when the moon completely blocks the sun) only occurs for about a minute or two depending on where you are along the path. Make sure you know exactly when totality is occurring in your area and get situated long before so you can enjoy the stages leading up to the total eclipse. Find viewing times on this handy interactive Google Map.
- What to bring—besides packing your usual camping essentials, there are a few items you definitely won’t want to forget this trip:
Extra layers: During the totality, the epic darkness will cause a 10-15-degree drop in temperature. So, pack that puffy jacket and your comfiest wool socks — you don’t want to get distracted during the totality by the shivers.
Something to sit on: a camp chair and blanket aren’t camping essentials if you’re used to backcountry camping or roughing it. But if you’re hanging out waiting for totality, comfort is key.
- Your eclipse glasses: what did we say before?!
Nerd out on Eclipse Facts:
This TED video explains all the science behind Solar Eclipses and why this one is so rare. August 21st will truly be an astronomical event of epic proportions. You won’t want to miss it.
Here are 5 eclipse facts we love:
- In the last few seconds before the total solar eclipse begins, sunlight streaming through the moon’s valleys creates a single bright flash of light on the side of the moon known as “the diamond ring effect.”
- The glowing light halo around the dark solar eclipse is called the “corona” – which NASA describes as “the sun’s tenuous atmosphere.”
- The next total solar eclipse over the continental U.S. won’t occur until April 8, 2024, when an eclipse will carve a path from Maine to Texas.
- We exist in an era of the earth’s history where the earth, moon and sun are perfect distances from each other to reveal “the corona” during the solar eclipse. Millions of years ago, the corona was blocked, and millions of years in the future, total solar eclipses won’t be possible because the moon will appear smaller than the sun. Pretty special, huh?
- The earliest predicted solar eclipse dates back to Ancient Greece (if the histories are correct). According to legend-slash-history, the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus accurately predicted an eclipse in 585 BC. The eclipse was viewed as an omen, and ceased a long-standing battle between the Medes and the Lydians. What’s the 2017 Eclipse an omen for?
We hope our guide helps you make the most of your 2017 eclipse adventure. Spread the word by sharing it — after all, friends don’t let friends miss the eclipse!