The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Will Pass Through the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina

On Monday August 21, millions of Americans will gather along the 70-mile-wide path of the nation’s first total solar eclipse since the 1970s.

Bryson City, Swain County and much of the Great Smoky Mountains sit squarely in that path of totality. The entire solar experience will last about 3 hours, from 1:06 pm to 4 pm (EDT), gradually changing from daylight to dark and back to daylight, with total darkness in Bryson City at 2:35:17 pm, lasting 1 min, 57 seconds.

What will happen during the total solar eclipse? Is it safe to look at the eclipse?

Don’t Just Come for the Big Day. Make it Three-day Eclipse Weekend

With the eclipse happening on Monday, you’ll want to make a weekend of it and enjoy the special activities we’re planning leading up to the big event.

Purchase Eclipse T-shirts

Preliminary Eclipse Weekend event schedule (check back for updates):

Dusk. Free, outdoor family movie at Riverfront Park, which has a large, grassy lawn for music-lovers. Enjoy your supper at one of the riverside tables or have a picnic on the grass.

10 am - 4 pm.
Enjoy a free, full-dome planetarium experience at the Marianna Black Library. Experience the universe (digital video projections in inflatable dome).
7 -9 pm. Free, live music at Riverfront Park.

7-9 pm.
Free, live music at Riverfront Park.

11 am - 3 pm.
Bryson City offers a number of excellent open viewing locations, such as:

RR Depot - Block party (live music)

Swain County Event Park (live music, food trucks). $10/car parking (includes viewing glasses)

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad - Train ride to an eclipse location

Darnell Farms (live music, food)

With all the outdoor activities Bryson City offers,
there’s no better place to spend a late summer weekend —

White water rafting and zip lining in the Nantahala Gorge

Riding a scenic excursion on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Trout fishing on dozens of mountain streams and rivers

Lake fishing and boating on Fontana Lake

Tubing on Deep Creek in the Great Smokies National Park

Hiking and mountain biking at Tsali

Stand-up paddleboarding on the Tuck in downtown Bryson City

After activities, relax with a cool one at a local brewery. Or treat the kids to ice cream at a local soda fountain. Then complete the day with dinner at one of many downtown eateries.

There’s plenty of lodging, but make your reservations early. Visit

Lots of Eclipse Viewing Sites and More

With the sun high in the sky during the eclipse, almost any open area will offer ideal viewing. And a few Bryson City locations will offer more than just viewing —

Downtown Block Party at the train depot. There'll be free live music from 11 am to 3 pm

Swain County Event Park - From 11 am to 3 pm there'll be live music, food trucks and plenty of hill-top parking for tailgating. Don't forget your folding chairs. $10/car parking (includes viewing glasses)

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad - Train ride to an eclipse viewing location

Darnell Farms (live music, food)

Viewing Sites in the National Park are at a Premium

The most desired viewing sites in the Smokies are quite naturally at the highest peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, particularly Clingmans Dome at 6,643 feet elevation which offers the unique possibility of seeing the moon's shadow approaching across the landscape.

To manage the anticipated crowds, the Park Servicie issued 1,325 tickets which were sold out in a matter of minutes. Clingmans Dome road will be closed to all public traffic.

The Park Service has not yet decided about closing Newfound Gap Road (US 441) through the Park. Certainly, there are several overlooks with long-range vistas, but the traffic congestion is bound to be bad. And there's a chance of getting stuck in a place with no good viewing.

The Oconaluftee Visitor Center (Cherokee) and Cades Cove will allow free access and parking until spaces fill up or the area becomes congested. National Park info


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