You’re probably already aware that there’s a total solar eclipse coming in April 2024. It promises to be one of the biggest natural events of the year, bringing an estimated 1 to 4 million travelers to the path of totality, which will stretch from Mexico to Canada across North America. If you haven’t started planning, it may be too late to snag a hotel. While there are several operators still offering last-minute solar eclipse tours, those wanting to craft their own eclipse itinerary can DIY their stay and do some good ol’ camping.
Within the United States, the best camping locations for the 2024 solar eclipse include campgrounds in national parks, state parks, and state forests, plus privately owned properties. Come with a tent to pitch—and a can-do attitude—and get ready to set up camp at these five places, where there will be nothing between you and the wonders of the sky.
1. Adirondack Park, New York
Four hours north of New York City, the Adirondacks used to be a remote haven for industry titans like the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts. Today, the wilderness area is way more accessible to the common person than it was a century ago, thanks to more than a dozen scenic byways that cut through the region. But it’s still as pristine as it was back in the day: At 6 million acres, Adirondack Park is the largest publicly protected area in the lower 48. On April 8, several places in the Adirondacks—Lake Placid, Whiteface Mountain, and Newcomb Overlook to name a few—will host their own bashes to celebrate the event. More than half of the huge park will be in the path of totality, so there will be plenty of spaces to spread out for a more private experience.
Where to camp
Camping is plentiful in Adirondack Park with more than 60 campsites available (and plenty of backcountry options, too). For those looking for a more comfortable stay than a simple tent setup—the Adirondacks was a summer haven for the Roosevelts and Astors, after all—check out the different glamping locations in the region or lodges like the Saranac Waterfront Lodge.
2. Texas Hill Country
Thanks to Texas’s high probability of blue skies (notwithstanding other factors like El Niño), the Lone Star State is one of the best places to stake your tent for the eclipse. Arguably one of the best places to see it is within a 31,000-square-mile area in the heart of the state known as Texas Hill Country. Within this region between Texas’s High Plains and San Antonio, small towns like Kerrville and Bandera are expected to get more than four minutes of totality on April 8. Extend your trip a day or two, because the solar eclipse is only one of the reasons it’s one of the best places to go in 2024. Regional towns like the German-influenced Fredericksburg have charming personalities worth exploring on their own.
Where to camp
The western, less-populated part of Hill Country is particularly ideal for a more dramatic dimming of the skies. Head to small towns like Bandera, where the Hill Country State Natural Area preserve has several first-come, first-served campsites.
3. Niagara Falls, New York
NASA is headed north to Niagara Falls for the solar eclipse, so why not join them? On April 8, America’s oldest state park is going to get nearly four minutes of totality on eclipse day. But camp out before then, because starting on April 4, NASA experts—and even astronauts—will host free, public events (details to come) in places including the Niagara Falls public libraries, the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, and the Aquarium of Niagara. Combine this event with a visit to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world and the charming small town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, and camping out and staying a while sounds like quite the adventure.
Where to camp
A 15-minute drive from the park is Niagara Falls Campground & Lodging, making it one of the closest campgrounds to Niagara Falls. Reservations for the season become available March 1. Slightly farther alternatives include Four Mile Creek State Park’s campground and the Golden Hill State Park campground.
4. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Possibly the most relaxing place for an eclipse camping trip, Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is set to get about three and a half minutes of totality. While there aren’t any outdoor hot springs here (you’ll have to go to the two bath houses downtown to enjoy the area’s thermal water), the park has more than 25 miles of hiking trails for clearing your head. Go down the popular Sunset Trail around totality time to see a panorama of the Ouachita Mountains as darkness descends.
Where to camp
Check out the 44 campsites in the national park’s Gulpha Gorge campground, which can be reserved six months in advance. Alternatively, you can drive 20 minutes north and stake out in one of the 93 campsites at Lake Ouachita State Park. The park is located by Arkansas’s largest lake, where you can swim, kayak, and even scuba dive alongside fish like catfish, crappie, and bass.
5. Hoosier National Forest, Indiana
Two hours south of Indianapolis, most of Hoosier National Forest will be on the 2024 solar eclipse’s path of totality. The 200,000-acre forest is home to a host of prime viewing spots in nature. (You can maximize total darkness in Monroe Lake, which will get around four minutes of totality because it’s so close to the center of the eclipse path.) It’s understandable if you want to find a spot in the state’s only national forest for the event, but there are also some tempting festivities nearby: From April 6 to 8 on the Monroe County Fairgrounds (about an hour away), there will be a solar eclipse camping and music festival featuring local bands and wellness workshops—plus a wedding package for couples who want to get married in total darkness.
Where to camp
Camping reservations for Hoosier National Forest Recreation areas opened on January 12. A handful of camping areas, including Charles C. Deam Wilderness and Blackwell campground, are on the path of totality. But keep an eye out—additional campgrounds will start taking reservations in the coming weeks.