I just got my four tickets to a once in a lifetime event – a total eclipse on Monday August 21, 2017.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is offering an opportunity to experience the total eclipse through a special, ticketed event at Clingmans Dome as well as informal eclipse viewing sites at Cades Cove and Oconaluftee. The park is partnering with NASA, Southwestern Community College, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to provide a special program with featured speakers and storytellers that help explain the science and cultural connection to this unique natural event at Clingmans Dome.
At 6,643 feet in elevation, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the park and offers the unique possibility of seeing the moon’s shadow approaching across the landscape. The area will be closed to all public vehicle traffic to better accommodate a safe, memorable experience for about 1,325 ticketed participants.
Imagine, 1,325 of your closest friends.
The parking area will be converted into the special event site that will include a jumbotron screen for participating in a national NASA TV broadcast, telescopes, educational exhibits, and stage for special featured speakers.
“We are thrilled that the park lies within the narrow viewing band of this spectacular, natural phenomena,” said Deputy Superintendent Clay Jordan. “I have great memories of the time I experienced a partial solar eclipse as a child and I am thrilled to view my first total eclipse from the top of the Smokies in the company of a passionate group of visitors.”
Tickets have just become available through www.recreation.gov for $30.00 each.
You must have a ticket to attend the event at Clingmans Dome. Participants will be shuttled to the site from Gatlinburg, TN and Cherokee, NC by coach bus. The Clingmans Dome tower itself will be reserved for the media and live broadcasting teams to share the experience with the widest audience possible. Special presentations and activities will take place during the approximately three-hour period in the afternoon when the sun will be partially and, for a brief time, totally obscured by the moon.
With a full schedule of entertaining and educational programs, park rangers and partners are working together to provide a worthwhile experience, even if the sun is obscured by clouds on the day of the event. There are going to be crowds. However, if you are patient, sociable, and flexible, this is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a total eclipse from the heart of America’s most visited national park.
When I went online at Recreation.Gov, I only saw an option to leave from Gatlinburg. I couldn’t find the Cherokee option, so I clicked on it. If I have to go to Gatlinburg, so be it.