Total Solar Eclipse

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On August 21 a total solar eclipse will pass over 12 states, including Tennessee. The eclipse (partial) will be visible throughout the United Sates.  A 70 mile Path of totality begins in Oregon and exits the nation at South Carolina. Areas within the 70 mile wide path will experience total darkness for up to 2 mins 40 seconds. The southern portion of the Cherokee National Forest (Ocoee Ranger District & Tellico Ranger District) is within the 70 mile wide Path of Totality.

The skies will darken all the way from Oregon to South Carolina along a stretch of land about 70 miles wide called the Path of Totality.  In the Southeast, it will begin to get dark around 1:15 p.m. in Kentucky and totality will occur at about 1:22 p.m.; totality will last just over two minutes. (It will be later for other states in the Southeast – TN, GA, NC, and SC).  Information here will highlight the exact time and location in each state as well provide other information including safety.

Possible Viewing Sites in the Cherokee National Forest

Cherokee National Forest:  Frequently Asked Questions about the Eclipse

If you are interested in what the solar eclipse will look like from your vantage point on August 21, here is a simulator that will show you what you will see and when, based on where you will be.

The Tellico and Ocoee Ranger Districts in the southern portion of the Cherokee National Forest will be within the 70 mile wide Path of Totality.  This unique event is expected to attract a tremendous number of visitors, many of whom may be unfamiliar with the Cherokee National Forest.

Some people may wish to view the eclipse in a more natural setting. Much of the Cherokee National Forest is remote and rugged, and the environment is much different than in urban areas. High clearance vehicles are recommended for many roads in the national forest.  Planning your visit ahead of time may help make it safer and more enjoyable.

Certain locations outside of developed recreation areas that may seem suitable for viewing the eclipse in the southern Cherokee National Forest may have environmental, safety or road access concerns associated with them.  Many of these locations have rough dirt/gravel roads leading to them with limited access, parking, crowd capacity, restricted traffic flow and no sanitation facilities or water. National forest visitors should expect many locations to be heavily visited and congested.

Below are some considerations to make your visit a positive experience.

Be Safe!

  • Understand risks, respect signs and barriers, and stay within your limits.
  • Most remote areas have limited or no services and facilities.
  • Be prepared for warm temperatures, bring extra water and sun and eye protection.
  • Click here for outdoor safety information.
Know Before You Go
  • Plan ahead to ensure a safe and fun experience.
  • Expect large crowds and congestion.
  • Familiarize yourself with the rules and specific information about the site you are visiting.
  • Cell service will not be available in many locations.
  • Many roads in the Cherokee National Forest are rough gravel/dirt and may require a high-clearance vehicle.
Recreate Responsibly
  • Help protect our national forest for all to enjoy.
  • Tread lightly and leave no trace. Leave your site better than you found it.
  • Remove all trash and remember to pack it in, pack it out!
  • To learn more, visit here.

Bear Country

The Cherokee National Forest is home to about 1,500 black bears. In most situations, bears have a natural fear of humans that helps them survive. Black bears are wild and their behavior is sometimes unpredictable. Treat all bear encounters with extreme caution.  Visit here for more black bear information.

Fire Safety

  • The use of, or possession of, fireworks is prohibited on all national forest land.
  • Clear campfire sight down to bare soil.
  • Circle fire pit with rocks.
  • Build campfire away from overhanging branches, logs/stumps, steep slopes, dry grass and leaves/pine needles.
  • Keep a bucket of water and shovel nearby.
  • NEVER leave a campfire unattended.
  • When putting out a campfire, drown the fire, stir it and drown it until it is dead out!
  • Always have an adult around to supervisor outdoor cooking.
  • Be careful with gas lanterns, barbeques, gas stoves and anything that can be a source of ignition for a wildfire.

Safety Tips for the 2017 Solar Eclipse

REMEMBER:  The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses”.  Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the Sun.

Community Events  

The Path of Totality will pass through the southern portion of the Cherokee National Forest in Monroe, McMinn and Polk counties.  Communities throughout the area will be hosting celebrations and showcasing local and regional culture.  Many of these areas offer excellent opportunities to view the eclipse while enjoying art, music, and local cuisine.  These events are easily accessible and offer various amenities. There are a number of online sources to learn more about the eclipse and activities in the area.  Visit here for one such site.

The Eclipse in Cherokee National Forest

DEVELOPED RECREATION SITES: More than 30 developed campgrounds scattered throughout the Cherokee National Forest (CNF) provide visitors with a range of site amenities and services. Most campsites in developed campgrounds are large and level enough to accommodate tents, pop-up campers & RVs.  A table, fire ring, and lantern post are common site features.  The most developed campgrounds offering electric hook-ups and large, level campsites.  Visit here for CNF camping information.

Many campsites in developed campgrounds are available on a first come-first served basis, but some can be reserved in advance online at Recreation.gov - or by calling:  1-877-444-6777.

The following campgrounds in the southern portion of the Cherokee National Forest under the reservation system are booked full for the weekend of the eclipse: Tellico Ranger District -Indian Boundary; Ocoee Ranger District – Thunder Rock, Chilhowee.

DISPERSED CAMPING: For visitors wanting to get away from it all, dispersed camping outside of developed campgrounds is allowed throughout Cherokee National Forest unless posted otherwise.  Camping is not allowed within 100 feet of water, trails, trailhead parking lots and developed recreation areas, or within 300’ of the Cherohala Skyway.  Dispersed camping is free and no permits are required. Visit Dispersed Camping for more information.