Much of America is on the Road Seeking a Rare Solar Eclipse

From staff reports and news releases — On August 21, the dramatic sun eclipse experience will be visible in 12 U.S. states and could mean between 10 and 100 million Americans on the road.

Location is vital to making the most of the event: to see “totality” you must put yourself within its 60-70-mile-wide path, which stretches from Oregon to South Carolina.

It is along this corridor that the deepest part of the moon’s shadow will rush – from west to east across the U.S. for the first time in 99 years.

Most people in the U.S.  will see only a partial eclipse, but totality, one of nature’s rarest spectacles, is there for anyone willing to study the maps and make careful travel plans.

All across America, especially those areas which will receive a total eclipse, are making plans for parties, parades, numerous special events, etc.  Some areas are even charging spectators to view the eclipse from their locations.

But one of the U. S. areas which will have a total eclipse view is the Smoky Mountains region, which is going all out to celebrate the event.

For a complete listing of all U. S. cities receiving a total eclipse go to path.htm

Here is some news release information provided by these East Tennessee locales (following this info is a roundup of some of the national eclipse celebrations).

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – For the first time in more than 38 years, the moon on Aug. 21 will block the view of the sun from the Earth in the United States.

Areas in East Tennessee are one of the best places to watch the eclipse, and Knox County Schools is hoping to give students time to views the eclipse by cancelling school. Knox County Schools said they received permission from the Tennessee Commissioner of Education to close school on Aug. 21 for “inclement weather.”

Knox County Schools said after-school activities after 4 p.m., such as athletic practices, games and other special events, will proceed as scheduled.

Though school will not be in session, Knox County Schools said it is embracing the learning opportunity and science phenomenon with great excitement in the classroom. They said a family science information packet will be sent to all families, and teachers will have solar eclipse lesson plans available to them for use in the week prior to the event. Students will also receive solar viewing glasses featuring designs created by two Knox County students.

Additionally, Knox County Schools has partnered with The Muse Knoxville museum to provide supplemental training for teachers.

TOWNSEND, Tenn. – On August 19, 2017, a summertime spectacle will take place in Townsend, Tennessee: the inaugural Great Smoky Mountain Hot Balloon Festival.

The sky will be filled with a spectrum of color against the backdrop of a breathtaking Tennessee sunset as dozens of professional balloonists take flight.

Taking place at the Townsend Visitors Center located at 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., the event features something for everyone. Families can enjoy kid-friendly activities, live entertainment, crafters demonstrating and selling their artwork, delectable food from the food truck court and local craft beer.

For those desiring a unique view of the scenic mountains, balloonists will offer safely tethered hot air balloon rides (weather depending).

The event takes place within days of another highly anticipated Blount County event: the total solar eclipse.

On Monday, August 21, a narrow path in the United States will experience the first total solar eclipse in 26 years. Only certain parts of specific states will experience this cosmic event. The eclipse is caused by the moon blocking the sun, and only the sun’s corona is visible. Blount County just happens to be one of the places to see this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Blount Partnership Tourism Director Kim Mitchell encourages visitors to spend a few days in the area to experience both events.

“August 19 through 21 is a great time to visit Blount County, Tennessee as we have two new and exciting events that are a must-see,” said Mitchell. “The inaugural Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival is a fun, family-friendly event with something for everyone, while the total solar eclipse is truly an event that most will only have the opportunity to experience once their lifetime.”

In anticipation of the total solar eclipse, many Blount County businesses are offering viewing events where attendees can get a good look at the eclipse through special glasses which protect eyes during the partial phases of the eclipse.

Also located in Townsend, Dancing Bear Lodge will host a Total Solar Eclipse Party for guests, visitors and members of the community. From 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., the lodge will provide blankets, chairs and eclipse glasses to each guest and lunch will be served “food truck style.”

“It’s great to see so many Blount County businesses opening their doors for the solar eclipse,” said Mitchell. “There are nearly a dozen different solar eclipse-related events for visitors to our area to choose from, from an afternoon of tubing followed by an afternoon shindig and viewing at River Rat Tubing in Townsend to a tour to Cades Cove with a boxed lunch and viewing through the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center. There’s an event to fit everyone’s interests.”

Accommodations in Blount County the weekend of August 19 through August 21 are quickly filling up, so visitors are encouraged to book their lodging early.

Those looking to plan a trip to Blount County can visit for a list of accommodations along with places to eat, things to do and what to see during the visit.

For more information on the Hot Air Balloon Festival, visit

For more information to understand and prepare for the solar eclipse, visit the NASA website at or

MARYVILLE, Tenn. – On August 21, 2017, a once-in-a-lifetime celestial event will transpire as specific areas of the United States experience a total solar eclipse.

While everyone in the contiguous United States will see at least a partial solar eclipse, only those in the thin path of totality will see a total solar eclipse. During this event, the moon passes between the sun and Earth, blocking all or part of the sun. In the path of totality, the moon completely blocks the sun for about two minutes and forty seconds.

The opportunity to see a total solar eclipse is rare—the last solar eclipse to cross the continental United States was in 1918. The next solar eclipse will take place on August 12, 2045, but the path of totality will not cross Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina or any of the northern states. For these areas, there will not be another opportunity within a lifetime.

Located in the path of totality, Blount County businesses and destinations are gearing up for this exciting event and offering a variety of viewing events.

Cades Cove, Townsend

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host an informal event at the historic Cable Mill in Cades Cove.

Visitors for the Cades Cove viewing will have the added educational benefit of docents provided by the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. The Institute is holding a four-day science program for local, under-served, inner city high school students who have expressed an interest and aptitude for science. This science-themed leadership program trains the students to be solar eclipse docents—sharing their newly gained knowledge.

There is no fee to participate. Vehicle access may be closed when parking becomes full or roads become congested.

Chilhowee Inn, Walland

Chilhowee Inn will offer a three-day eclipse special which includes a three-night stay at the Inn, a picnic lunch the day of the eclipse and ISO CE certified eclipse viewing glasses.

“The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be one of the best places to see the eclipse as it passes directly over,” said Chilhowee Inn Owner John Pullias. “As visitors flock to this area to see the eclipse, we’re offering a special package. Visitors can enjoy our accommodations while also having the opportunity to see the eclipse either from our grounds or the National Park which is less than 15 minutes away.”

Dancing Bear Lodge, Townsend

Guests of the lodge and members of the community are invited to the Total Solar Eclipse Party, a picnic on the lawn at Dancing Bear Lodge, to witness the eclipse. Lunch will be served “food truck style” on the deck from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and the lodge will provide blankets, chairs and eclipse glasses to each guest. The event is free.

Dancing Bear Lodge Owner Mark Oldham urges visitors to go ahead and book reservations by visiting them online or calling 800-369-0111 as accommodations are selling quickly.

Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, Townsend

The Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center is hosting a Solar Eclipse Tour to one of the best viewing areas, Cades Cove. Guests will depart from the Center at 9:30 a.m. and the $30 per person fee covers a box lunch and a pair of solar eclipse viewing glasses. The tour is limited to 46 guests and can be booked by calling 865-448-8838.

Harmony Family Center, Maryville

For those who prefer to stay in town, the city of Maryville, Tennessee will also offer solar eclipse viewing events. One such event is the Harmony Family Center’s Great American Eclipse Viewing Party in the Montvale community. The pool and basketball courts will be open with food and beer trucks and experts speaking on the details of the eclipse.

“This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime event,” said CEO and Founder Pam Wolf. “Montvale is in the direct path of the Great American Eclipse and this is a great opportunity to showcase our property and offer a great experience to everyone who attends.”

Tickets to the Harmony Family Center event are $25 for adults and $10 for children and include viewing glasses. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. and will the event will end at 3:00 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Center’s programs.

Look Rock, Walland

One of the best views of the Tennessee mountains is from the observation tower at Look Rock. The concrete tower is high above the trees and mountains with plenty of parking along Foothills Parkway. The trail crosses the road at the end of the parking lot. It’s a short hike up to the observation tower.

Pellissippi State Community College’s “Tailgating in Totality” event, Maryville

Pellissippi State’s Blount County campus is planning a community and college-wide watch party, Tailgating in Totality, from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The free event is touted as “the largest solar eclipse tailgate in the world.”

River Rat Tubing’s “Totally Tuber Solar Eclipse Celebration,” Townsend

River Rat Tubing will host an afternoon shindig, the Totally Tuber Solar Eclipse Celebration starting at the time of the eclipse, around 1:30 p.m. Afterwards, attendees will enjoy live music and family activities located at River Rat Tubing’s main building at 205 Wears Valley Road. The $25 fee includes tubing, a glow in the dark t-shirt and a unique view of the eclipse.

Visitors to Blount County for the solar eclipse have the added benefit of another must-see event: The inaugural Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival. Taking place two days prior to the eclipse, the festival will feature tethered hot air balloon rides, food, craft vendors and children’s activities. The event will take place from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 19 at the Townsend Visitors Center located at 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway. For more information on the Hot Air Balloon Festival, visit

For more information to understand and prepare for the solar eclipse, visit the NASA website at or


Here is data on several other national locales providing special eclipse events:

Wind River Country, Wyoming

The prospects for clear skies here are good and, by lucky chance, a 120-mile stretch of Highway 61 between Riverton – in Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation – and Caspar runs almost exactly along the centre of the path of totality. That could be useful for driving away from clouds. The Riverton area has many camping spots and the Jim Moss Arena, which is temporarily offering camping, is a good choice. It is 15 miles north-west of the town and has tipis ($270 for two nights) and camping pitches ($25 a night). It’s also staging free barrel races (like rodeo, but around obstacles) on Saturday and Sunday (19 and 20 August).
Riverton will see totality on 21 August at 11.39am for 2 minutes 21 seconds.


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