Park announces solar eclipse event

News release from Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The total solar eclipse of Nov. 14, 2012, as seen from aboard the cruise ship Paul Gauguin in the South Pacific near New Caledonia. Photo by: Rick Fienberg / TravelQuest International / Wilderness Travel.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is offering an opportunity to experience the Great American Total Eclipse through a ticketed event at Clingmans Dome as well as informal eclipse viewing sites at Cades Cove and Oconaluftee.

The total eclipse will take place Monday, Aug. 21.

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 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 experience for about 1,325 participants. 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 a stage for featured speakers.

The “diamond ring” appears just before the beginning of totality, when a single bright point of sunlight. Photo by Rick Fienberg / TravelQuest International / Wilderness Travel.

Tickets cost $30 and will be available for purchase March 1 on a first come first serve basis online.

Participants will be shuttled to the site from Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Cherokee by coach bus. The Clingmans Dome tower will be reserved for the media and live broadcasting teams.

The Clingmans Dome location presents some challenges that visitors must consider before making a reservation. Due to its remote outdoor location, an inflexible transportation schedule and limited service facilities on site, interested visitors should closely review event details and consider which of the park opportunities, among many other planned eclipse events in surrounding communities, would best fit each personal situation.

Visitors should also note that park roads, including Newfound Gap Road, may close on the day of the event depending on traffic congestion.

For more information, call 865-436-1585 or visit the park website.