(BPT) - Whether you're an astronomy buff or want a unique vacation experience, head to Arkansas for the 2024 Great North American Eclipse April 8, 2024. Two-thirds of the state, from southwest to northeast corners, will be located within the path of totality, which — in locations closest to the center line of the path — will last for more than four minutes. The remainder of the state will experience a partial eclipse lasting more than 2.5 hours.
This is a historic event for Arkansas, which hasn't been in the full path of a solar eclipse since 1918. The Natural State is expected to welcome more than a million visitors on the day of the eclipse and during the time leading up to and after the event.
While the eclipse will only last a few minutes, you can turn this once-in-a-lifetime event into an unforgettable vacation with friends and family. Come early and stay late so you can take in the full experience of what Arkansas has to offer. To get started, check out these three places in Arkansas where you can enjoy the eclipse and other attractions the state has to offer.
1. Hot Springs, AR
Hot Springs, Arkansas, may be best known for hosting several annual music and film festivals and as a popular vacation resort destination. However, it's also home to the smallest and oldest of the parks in the National Park Service.
Hot Springs National Park is the first federally protected area in the nation's history. The park was created to protect the 47 naturally flowing thermal springs on the southwestern slope of Hot Springs Mountain. Head to a campground or get out on the water to see the total eclipse for an unobstructed view of the sky.
You can also enjoy outdoor activities — like hiking, mountain biking, golf, horseback riding, fishing, digging for quartz crystals and water sports —before and after the eclipse at other Hot Springs natural destinations around the area known as the Diamond Lakes Region.
Don't forget to check out the Gangster Museum of America and the Mid-America Science Museum for indoor educational entertainment.
2. Little Rock, AR
Take a trip to Little Rock, Arkansas, the state's largest city. Located on the banks of the Arkansas River in Pulaski County in the center of the state, the city is a dream destination for cyclists, with several trails and loops in and around the city.
Consider bringing your bike or renting one so you can enjoy the solar eclipse while on the trail. Before and after the eclipse, take a self-guided cycling tour of the city to discover its rich history and enjoy Little Rock's food scene in the River Market District.
Downtown, you can visit restaurants, shops, art galleries, museums, the main library, bars and a seasonal farmers market. For foodies, check out Lassis Inn, one of the state's oldest restaurants and recipient of America's Classics Award by the James Beard Foundation. If you're into beer, head to Lost Forty Brewing, one of the largest breweries in the state, and enjoy a bite and cold beer after a day outdoors.
3. Buffalo National River
If you want to experience the eclipse with as little artificial light as possible, plan to visit Buffalo River National River. This park is the state's first and only International Dark Sky Park, meaning people can view the eclipse minus any artificial lighting obstructions. Visit before or after the eclipse to see stars, planets and constellations under a natural night sky.
For horse lovers, the park also has more than 75 miles of designated equestrian trails and 100 miles of maintained trails within the river park. Some trails offer breathtaking views from the top of the limestone bluffs. Whether you want to sleep under the stars in the primitive backpacking campgrounds, stay in a rustic cabin or enjoy a resort just outside the park, Buffalo National River has plenty to offer visitors on the day of the eclipse and year-round.
Start planning your 2024 trip to the Great North American Eclipse today. Whether you visit one of these three destinations or other towns and cities in the path of totality, you're sure to have an optimal view of this rare event. To learn more about attractions and accommodations in Arkansas, visit Arkansas.com.