The event poster reads like that for a rock extravaganza a la Lalapalooza or Coachella:
Get Here Early!
Gates open at 5 a.m.!
Stay All Day!
Food trucks! Vendors! Live streaming!
Don’t you dare miss it … !
In fact, it’s the poster promoting Total Solar Eclipse 2017 at Gorges State Park, part of the normally staid North Carolina State Park system.
North Carolina, and the mountains in particular, are burning up with eclipse fever. For you, that translates to lots of events where you can share the experience with others, maybe hear some live music, sample the fare from a food truck or two, score a pair of those hard-to-get eclipse-watching glasses.
Among the offerings:
Downtown Sylva, 1 minute and 47 seconds of total darkness. Eclipse central will be Bridge Park, where, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., you’ll find food trucks, educational tents, kids activities and a planetary walk. More info here.
Cashiers (pronounced “Cashers,” fyi), 2 minutes and 23 seconds. Food trucks, live music and fun, sure, but there will also be solar eclipse experts with special viewing equipment. Go to the local post office and get your special solar eclipse thermal stamp canceled. Festivities run from noon to 4 p.m. More info here.
Blue Ridge Parkway, anywhere from 20 seconds (Looking Glass Overlook, Milepost 417) to 44 seconds (Waterrock Knob, Milepost 469). Parkway officials will be allowing roadside parking (provided you are entirely off the road) for this stretch of the southern parkway west of the Pisgah Inn; still, expect a zoo as moonstruck motorists vie for prime viewing spots. Check out RomanticAsheville.com‘s Blue Ridge Parkway Guide for overlooks and other stops along this section.
Gorges State Park, Sapphire, about 2 1/2 minutes. Yes, the gates really do open at 5 a.m. (the park typically opens at 8 a.m.), meaning you might want to camp outside the gate to score the best viewing spots and to enjoy the pre-eclipse entertainment, including music by Tina Eno, the Blue Ridge Bakery Boys, Quarter House Band, and the Singing Vegetables puppets. More info here.
Mount Mitchell State Park, Burnsville, 98.43 percent totality. View near totality from the highest point on the East Coast. Featured event: How an Eclipse Happens. Events from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Upper Summit Parking Lot. More info here.
Umstead State Park, Raleigh, 93 percent. Warning: Did you know it can be harmful to view the eclipse without special eclipse glasses? Be among the first 100 to register for the eclipse event at Umstead State Park and the Friends of State Parks will make sure your eyeballs are eclipse-proof. Also on hand: a Dobsonian Telescope with solar filter to view the sun before the total eclipse. Noon to 4 p.m. More info and pre-register here.
Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap, partial eclipse. Gather at 1 p.m. for a 30-minute talk about the eclipse, then hang out in the field between campsites 33 and 34 in the A Loop Campground to watch the action. More info https://www.ncparks.gov/stone-mountain-state-park/events-and-programs/solar-eclipse
Haw River-Iron Ore Belt, 93 percent “Obscuration,” Greensboro. This event focuses on the peak of the event, from 2-3 p.m., with park staff assisting viewers in the open field near the parking area. Free safe viewing glasses provided to the first 70 participants. More info here.
Raven Rock State Park, Lillington, 94 percent. Come to the Visitor Center at 1 p.m. where eclipse educational stations will be set up; then, take your camp chair out front to the grassy field and watch. More info here.
Horton Grove Nature Preserve, Bahama, 93 percent. Our GetHiking! group hosts an event for those late to the eclipse party. Bring a lawn chair. More info and sign up here.
Dismal Swamp State Park, South Mills, partial eclipse. Educational exhibits, crafts and other activities between 1 and 4 p.m. Plus, special viewing glasses will be available! More info here.
Hammocks Beach State Park, Swansboro, partial. Eclipse-related educational opportunities, with special glasses available. Programs both on the mainland and on Bear Island, a short ferry ride or paddle away. More info here.
Goose Creek State Park, partial, Washington. Timeline: Glasses distributed at 1 p.m., transition begins at 1:20 p.m., peak is at 2:45 p.m., the show’s over at 4 p.m. More info here.
For more State Park events, visit ncparks.gov.