Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Start planning now for the 2024 total solar eclipse in North America. Seriously!

Get ready, the 2024 total solar eclipse is coming!

On August 21, 2017, campgrounds from the Oregon Coast to the shores of South Carolina were swamped by campers crowding to get under the shadow of the solar eclipse.

Many campground owners weren’t prepared for the crazy, carnival-like atmosphere the eclipse caused, and parks throughout North America took note to be better prepared the next time the sun disappeared at midday.

Well, it’s all going to happen again on Monday, April 8, 2024, and if you’re an RVer who doesn’t want to be left in the sunlight this time, it isn’t too early to start making your plans.

Where can I see the 2024 total solar eclipse?

The 2024 eclipse in North America will first touch the U.S. in South Texas before sweeping in an arc across 15 states and six Canadian provinces.

The “sweet spot” for eclipse watchers is the 70-mile-wide “Shadow of Totality,” where the sun will totally disappear behind the moon’s shadow. Only a glowing corona will appear around the eclipse margins.

While the eclipse effect will only last a few minutes in any one location along the path, the experience in 2017 showed owners the power of the natural phenomenon. After all, the total population in the states under the 100% eclipse totality equals 114 million folks. That’s a lot of people crowding under a 70-mile-wide swath of territory.

Get ahead of crowded campgrounds

“We knew it would be big, but not that big,” said Kathy Freeman, owner of the Benton, Illinois, KOA Journey, of the 2017 event. Freeman’s park has the distinction of being one of the very few campgrounds that experienced the eclipse in 2017 and will be under the Shadow of Totality again in 2024.

“The few weeks before the last eclipse happened, we were overwhelmed with phone calls,” Freeman said. Her park did raise rates to usual holiday levels, but many campgrounds along the 2017 route weren’t aware of the crushing demand they experienced, and some didn’t alter online booking rates for the August 2017 event in time to reap the benefit.

That isn’t likely to happen in 2024. Most campground owners we talked to are well aware of the high interest the eclipse generated in 2017 and are already making their plans for April 2024.

“We are definitely starting to think about our plans for 2024,” said Indianapolis KOA Holiday owner David Vaughan. His park, which lies squarely in the middle of the Shadow of Totality, is also the current KOA Campground of the Year.

“I think a lot of campground owners got caught a bit flat-footed last time it happened,” Vaughan said. “It is a wonderful opportunity, especially coming this time early in the camping season.”

In 2017, campers were begging park owners to let them park just about anywhere – and they were willing to pay premium prices to have a place to go.

It isn’t too early to pick your spot for the 2024 total solar eclipse

Pick your spot: There are already many maps available online (we’ve included a good one above) that show the path of the April 8, 2024, eclipse. You can also find the exact time of the total eclipse in a certain area, along with the duration. Again, the maximum totality of the eclipse only lasts a few minutes. The longest it will last in 2024 is four minutes and 28 seconds in Nazas, Durango, Mexico.

The closer you are to the center of the Path of Totality, the longer the totality will last.

The best cities with the longest durations are…

  • Waco, Texas
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Poplar Bluff, Missouri
  • Mount Vernon, Illinois
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Bloomington, Indiana
  • Kenton, Ohio
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Erie, Pennsylvania
  • Buffalo, New York
  • Rochester, New York

Wildlife can get a little weird during an eclipse, with confused birds, bats, and other animals as confused as we are by the effect. It’s interesting to witness the wildlife, so find a good spot with plenty of fauna.

Wherever you choose to camp to see the eclipse, get there early. During the 2017 event, roads and highways were jammed with folks trying to get under the shadow any way they could. Even remote areas had huge traffic jams.

Be ready to wait for a reservation for the 2024 total solar eclipse

While campgrounds are likely to be much better prepared for the 2024 eclipse, don’t expect to find any available spots just yet. Owners know the demand for campsites will be huge, and many will hold out for a while to see what rates are like at competing campgrounds before they open their systems for the dates around April 8, 2024.

Owners are also a bit fearful of campers making multiple reservations along the path of the eclipse and waiting until the last moment to select their true destination. This did happen in 2017, as campers booked several sites and waited for weather reports before making the trek to see the eclipse from the best possible vantage point. Weather is certainly a factor for eclipse chasers, as a cloudy or rainy day would ruin the experience.

Call the campground

Your best bet may be to pick your desired campground, then reach out with an email or call to see precisely when reservations will be made available for the April 8, 2024, date. See if the owner has a waiting list and will keep in touch. Regardless, the eclipse is likely to again cause a website and phone-feeding frenzy. Have a Plan B in place in case Plan A doesn’t work out.

But try to be respectful of your fellow RVers and don’t play the “weather game” by booking several campgrounds along the eclipse path, knowing you’ll only use one.

Some sites to watch to pick your campground

Here are some sites to watch when you’re ready to pick your eclipse campground. Likely, you won’t find many parks willing to make a reservation for April 8, 2024, just yet. But there could be some.

Recreation.gov: This is the behemoth of government booking sites for many federal parks.

Hipcamp: This site acts as a “dating service” for campers and landowner hosts who want to keep their land undeveloped.

2024 State Park Statistics: This is a great site that gives you information about state parks under the Shadow of Totality for the 2024 eclipse. Note that a few state parks in certain states, like Arkansas, will let you make reservations 12 months in advance. The shortest advanced windows for reservations are in Texas state parks (five months in advance) and Maine state parks (reservations open February 2024).

Free Campsites: This site includes a lot of camping information crowdsourced from users, mostly about public parks.

Harvest Hosts: A membership is required here, but the experience at a small winery or pretty golf course would be epic.

KOA: Kampgrounds of America will have at least 63 parks under the Shadow of Totality and many more close by with at least 80% darkness.

Jellystone Parks: Jellystone Parks (aka Yogi Bear campgrounds) are designed with younger families in mind. Since the 2024 eclipse passes right through mid-America, which has a lot of Yogi parks, this chain will likely be more than ready with special eclipse events too.

The above information should help you get started in your planning. Don’t forget about Canada! The eclipse will cut across Eastern Canada, all of the way to Prince Edward Island.

Get your glasses ASAP

Viewing a solar eclipse requires special darkened glasses. This is no time to go with the cheap knockoffs, and you’d also be wise not to wait and hope that your chosen campground supplies the right specs. The glasses were in short supply in 2017 and, if you didn’t have the foresight to hang onto your five-year-old pair, you might want to start searching now for the right pair.

You can get a rundown of the top eclipse glasses here. Prices are pretty reasonable now, but as the date approaches, you can expect prices to go, well, sky-high.

You can find just about every kind of glasses to use for the 2024 total solar eclipse on Amazon too.

Eventually, watch the weather

Trying to pick where it’s going to rain in two years will drive you crazy. And, as stated above, it isn’t nice to book multiple campgrounds to cover all your bad-weather bases. A better bet might be to book your best spot under the eclipse totality, then bring along a towed or second vehicle and use it as an “escape vehicle” if you need to drive out of the rain to see the eclipse. It’s not an ideal solution, but we’re dealing with a natural phenomenon with a lot of factors.

As the date approaches, plan on watching the weather, too, on accurate and user-friendly platforms like Dark Sky and Wunderground, where you can plot the forecast from seven to nine days in advance.

Planning, planning, planning

Like every camping trip these days, an eclipse outing is going to take a lot of forethought. Plan for shortages and long waits (food, fuel, traffic) and pack your patience. There will likely be more than a few folks who have never set foot in a campground before and are only there for the eclipse event.

Rental RVs will likely be there in large numbers and watching the rookies park and hook up is always an entertaining event. But it’s also an opportunity for you to pay it forward and help out.

Remember it’s all happening Monday, April 8, 2024. Be there, be kind, and look up!


Mike Gast
Mike Gast
Mike Gast was the vice president of Communications for Kampgrounds of America Inc. for 20 years before retiring in 2021. He also enjoyed a long newspaper career, working as a writer and editor at newspapers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, and Montana. He and his wife, Lori Lyon, now own and operate the Imi Ola Group marketing company, focusing on the outdoor industry.


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Tommy Rand
1 month ago

We have lots of space n Arkansas. Where can we list our web site and info.? wwwrodeoeclipsecampgrounds.com

Shelly Alston
8 months ago

Our zipline facility east of Mena, Arkansas, has been taking reservations for camping for over a year now. We are in the path of totality with four minutes seven seconds of totality. We’re going all out…. live music, food, vendors, animals, bounce house, astronomers, and more. We have a great, close-up view of the mountains and the valleys below. We’ve been planning this since 2017. A little over a year until the big day.
I’m curious as to what activities other campgrounds are planning.

Paul Beddows
9 months ago

We are running several RV Caravans in mexico to take in this eclipse

Paul Beddows
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul Beddows

see https://www.mexicorvcaravans.com for the availability list for Mexico trips.

Jennifer Green
1 year ago

Al’s Hideaway in Pipe Creek Texas is part of the Totality area for 2023 and 2024, They are taking reservations now and payment at beginning of year 2023. They are a small campground and plan to keep it small so everyone can enjoy. 9 full hook-up sites available and 10% discount for booking 3 or more nights to help travelers avoid traffic nightmare

Jeff Craig
1 year ago

We planned ahead and had glasses, shades for our telescopes and camping in McCall, Idaho for 2017, and drove an hour to a remote spot directly under the path of totality. We arrived to discover the entire place was packed! The farmers in the area had turned their fields into dry-camping areas, and the church where I had planned on viewing it from had turned into a Festival and was jam packed. Fortunately, the company I worked for had an equipment hut just up the street, so we were able to park there instead.

We are planning for the Annular eclipse on 2023OCT14 and will probably head towards Oregon or Nevada to see that (and hope the weather cooperates). One thing we realized early on was that the 2024 eclipse will coincide with the NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway (although that may change with the new schedule they created post-pandemic). So, we may be getting the most bang for the buck on that trip!

Ron T.
1 year ago

I’ll let those who think they have to have a campsite under the path of totality have their campsites. I only need to be somewhere in the vicinity – maybe 100-150 miles. In 2017 we Wisconsonites were parked at one relative’s home in Missouri, but drove an hour to another relative’s home which just happened to be under the path. Poplar Bluff will be a bit more of a drive so will consider Mount Vernon area too. I’ll watch the weather the day before and decide which way to head. Any large parking lot or rural side road will do. While you only have to be there for a few minutes to experience totality, plan for a few hours to see the whole show. Check for astronomy clubs in your selected area. They will likely have public viewing areas set up and provide different safe methods to see what’s happening.

James Van Riper
1 year ago

We were unable to find the glasses in 2017 (could have been a lack of planning on our part – but I’d rather admit to not even knowing to the eclipse coming our way until 2 or 3 days before it actually happened). But – since we didn’t have glasses, I found that my welding helmet worked great with seeing the eclipse through the vision glass. (Just a thought if you’re not in time to get the commercially offered glasses.

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