Hoping to See the Total Solar Eclipse in 2024? You’d Better Plan Now.

The next total solar eclipse to appear in the U.S. will be on April 8, 2024. Accommodations in the path of totality are already booking up. Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning on traveling to see it.

Total solar eclipse above a mountain range

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun in total alignment.

Photo by Shutterstock

Let the countdown begin: Just under a year from now, parts of the United States will briefly experience night during the middle of the day as the moon passes between the sun and the Earth.

On April 8, 2024, the sun, Earth, and moon will come into complete alignment and a total solar eclipse will sweep over a swath of the United States. That will plunge such cities as Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas in Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Cleveland, Ohio; and Buffalo and Rochester in New York into darkness for up to four minutes and 27 seconds.

Astro tourists are expected to travel from across the country—and the world—to see the skyward spectacle. And while a year may sound like a long time to plan, if you’re keen on catching the celestial show, it’s a good idea to start planning and booking now. If 2017, when the last total solar eclipse passed over the USA, was any indication, demand for flights to and hotels in the destinations that are in path of totality (where people can see the moon completely obscure the sun) will skyrocket in the coming months.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning on traveling to see the 2024 solar eclipse.

When is the next solar eclipse?

The next solar eclipses will be an annular partial solar eclipse on October 14, 2023, and then a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.Both total solar eclipses and annular partial solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves between the Earth and the sun. However, in the case of an annular partial eclipse, the moon is further away from the Earth and doesn’t completely obscure the sun. The 2023 partial solar eclipse will be visible in parts of Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The 2024 solar eclipse, however, is the one that’s driving the most excitement, as the entire sun will be obscured.

When is the 2024 total solar eclipse?

The next solar eclipse that will be viewable from the United States will happen on April 8, 2024. Depending on your location (and time zone), the eclipse will happen somewhere between 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. local time on April 8.

If you don’t get to see this one, the next total solar eclipse won’t happen in the United States for more than 20 years (August 23, 2044). However, the path of totality for that one will only cross over parts of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Where will be the 2024 solar eclipse be visible?

According to NASA, the trail of the eclipse will enter the United States in Texas, near San Antonio, and will then follow a northeastern path across the state before continuing into parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Communities closer to the path’s center, such as Cleveland and Buffalo, will see the longest eclipse (roughly four minutes long). In contrast, cities on the edge, like Austin and Burlington, will see a shorter eclipse (under two minutes).

A map of the annular and solar eclipses in the USA

A map showing the annular and solar eclipses.

Courtesy of NASA

Outside the United States, the eclipse can also be seen in Mexico, starting on the Pacific Coast near Mazatlan, before crossing the central desert areas of Durango and Coahuila, before reaching the Texas border. It will end in Canada, visiting parts of Ontario and Newfoundland.

There are no bad places within the path of totality to see the solar eclipse (though you’ll want to make sure you’re somewhere with an unobstructed view of the sky), but for an even more memorable experience, travelers might consider cities like Austin and Little Rock, which are hosting events, often in stadiums or open fields.

Those who really want to nerd out on the science behind the otherworldly event might consider traveling to one of the three cities that NASA is currently partnering with: Kerrville, Texas; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Cleveland, Ohio. There, NASA will do live broadcasts, organize group viewing areas, and have NASA experts on-site to “engage with the public and share the ways NASA studies the Sun and uses that information to understand its impact on Earth, throughout our solar system, and beyond,” according to a statement.

People wearing protective sunglasses while viewing a total solar eclipse

People travel long distances for the chance to glimpse a total solar eclipse.

Photo by Shutterstock

Alternatively, for those looking for a quieter experience, the top of a hill or mountain provides an interesting 360-degree spectacle. Word of warning, though: Wild animals can react to the eclipse in surprising ways (those that are nocturnal, in particular, can get confused) so bear that in mind before choosing a spot in the wilderness.

The real wild card for seeing the 2024 solar eclipse will be the weather. If it’s cloudy (which is not totally unlikely in April), the eclipse won’t be visible. Typically in April, per NOAA records, areas in the South and Southwest are the driest, whereas the Northeast is the wettest, so it may be worth factoring that in if you plan to travel to see the eclipse.

Hotels for the 2024 total solar eclipse are already booking up

Accommodations in larger cities in the path of totality are already being scooped up for the 2024 solar eclipse.

According to Visit San Antonio president and CEO Marc Anderson, hotels in San Antonio just opened their reservations for April 2024 and are “starting to see strong demand, with half of the hotels surveyed close to completely sold out.”

Similarly, representatives from Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Austin told AFAR that hotel reservations are rapidly coming in. If the hotels in your desired city fill up before you get around to booking, look for options in cities within driving distance, as well as Airbnb listings and campsites in the area.

How will the 2024 total solar eclipse compare to the 2017 total solar eclipse?

The 2024 total solar eclipse will be longer and visible to more people than the 2017 eclipse (the last total solar eclipse visible in the United States). In 2017, the moon’s direct shadow (called the umbra), from under which you can see the eclipse, was 70 miles wide. In 2024, it’ll be 120 miles wide.

And because the shadow is so much wider (a symptom of the moon being closer to the Earth this time), it also means that the duration will be longer at four minutes and 27 seconds at its peak, as opposed to just two minutes and 41 seconds, the peak in 2017.

Because the path of totality is wider, more people live in its path (32 million people, compared to 12 million in 2017). It could also make finding a spot to witness the celestial show a little easier.

Bailey Berg is the associate travel news editor at AFAR, where she covers breaking news, trends, tips, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. When not interviewing sources or writing articles, she can be found exploring art galleries, visiting craft breweries, hiking with her dogs, and planning her next adventure (at present, she’s been to 75+ countries and hopes to spend time in every one someday).
More from AFAR