Georgia’s State Parks are gearing up for the biggest stellar show that most of us will ever see. For the first time in nearly 100 years, a total solar eclipse will make its way across nearly the entire United States. The “path of totality” – where day will briefly turn to night – includes northeast Georgia State Parks such as Black Rock Mountain and Tallulah Gorge. Park officials are making plans for what may be the biggest crowds since 30,000 people watched tightrope aerialist Karl Wallenda cross the gorge in 1970.
Cabins and campsites at state parks within the path have been sold out for months, and parks within two hour’s drive are quickly filling up. To help amateur astronomers find places to stay, Georgia’s State Parks are posting the best locations and availability on www.GaStateParks.org/Eclipse2017. Don Carter State Park on Lake Lanier, Victoria Bryant State Park near Royston and Watson Mill Bridge State Park near Athens are just some of the parks with remaining accommodations that are within a short drive of the eclipse path.
The park system’s website also includes a calendar of viewing celebrations and eclipse facts. State park gift shops are already stocking up on viewing glasses and souvenir t-shirts. Elijah Clark State Park has planned a guided trip on Clarks Hill Lake to enjoy the sudden darkness from a kayak. Vogel State Park in Blairsville will host a celebration with children’s crafts. Even sites as far as Fort King George on Georgia’s coast have planned events since their visitors will see a partial solar eclipse.
“We are so excited to be part of this monumental occasion and are looking forward to sharing it with our visitors,” said State Parks Director Becky Kelley. “We know that people will be coming from all over the country to see the eclipse, and we want to make sure that everyone has a safe and memorable experience.”
Park managers are reminding visitors to use only official park entrances, with most opening at 7 a.m., and that a $5 ParkPass is required for all vehicles. If parks reach capacity, entrance gates may need to close. Everyone staying overnight will need a reservation. Overnight parking, hiking off trails and alcohol are not allowed. To learn more about solar eclipse celebrations in Georgia’s State Parks, visit www.GaStateParks.org/Eclipse2017.