Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are urging visitors to review the Frequently Asked Questions information posted on the park’s 2017 Solar Eclipse website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/2017-solar-eclipse.htm to assist in planning a safe solar eclipse experience.
Everyone is reminded to use only approved solar eclipse glasses when directly viewing the eclipse. Glasses can only be removed during the brief few seconds when in the area of totality. The duration of totality varies greatly across the park and region. A common cause of eye injury during a total eclipse is immediately following totality when viewers forget to put their glasses back on.
“A large number of people will be making Great Smoky Mountains National Park their destination for eclipse viewing on Monday,” said the park’s Chief Ranger, Steve Kloster. “We want to make sure everyone who comes here is as prepared as possible and understands that we expect traffic to be heavy and many park areas to be crowded. The better prepared our visitors are, the more enjoyable and safe the experience will be for everyone.”
Visitors should bring plenty of food and water and make sure their vehicle has a full tank of gas before entering the park. The high amount of traffic expected will cause difficulties for towing companies to reach vehicles in need. The traffic could also cause temporary road closures throughout the day as the park manages the influx of vehicles entering the park. Anyone planning to travel to or through the park should have an alternate route in mind in case the first path or viewing location is no longer available.
Visitors are asked to remember to respect the park and it’s wildlife by staying at least 50 yards from bears and elk and not feeding any park animals. Trash should be packed out or put in an appropriate trash receptacle to keep our overlooks and viewing areas clean. Backcountry hikers are reminded to follow Leave No Trace principles and to make sure they are prepared for the distance and mountainous terrain of their planned hike.
Visitors should also remember that Clingmans Dome Road will be closed to public access beginning at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 19 through the evening of Monday, August 21 following the eclipse event. No overnight parking will be allowed at Clingmans Dome Parking Area or pull-offs, parking areas, and trailheads along the road during this time period. The road will be closed to all motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The Clingmans Dome Trail will be open to the public, but the tower will be accessible to media only. The event at Clingmans Dome will be livestreamed at https://livestream.com/accounts/7167144/solareclipse2017-GreatSmokyMountains.