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Planning to see the total eclipse? Act fast if you plan to camp

Painted Hills, John Day Fossil Beds - Photo Credit: NPS Photo / Scott Ritner
Painted Hills, John Day Fossil Beds - Photo Credit: NPS Photo / Scott Ritner
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WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) – Nearly every state in America will witness some portion of the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse. If you plan to camp or bring an RV to witness the celestial event, you might have difficulty finding a spot if you don't already have a reservation.

Many of campgrounds at national parks are at full capacity.

The full eclipsing of the sun can only be seen on the path of totality spanning 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina.

NASA plans to host official events across the country complete with lectures by NASA scientists, educational demonstrations as well as question and answer sessions. Ivona Cetinic, NASA scientist with the Universities Space Research Association said that several locations will conduct experiments pertaining to the eclipse.

“NASA is not only interested at looking at the darkness and the corona. NASA scientists study the earth and the atmosphere. So, different aspects of NASA's interests are going to be studied in different parts of this path of totality. So, that’s why we chose these different locations to get a different aspect of this solar eclipse science, Cetinic said.”

But if you’re looking to camp along the path of totality you could be hard pressed to find a campsite as many locations are already booked or reserved months in advance.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration has issued travel warnings for the eclipse and recommends checking local and state departments of transportation websites before setting out.

“Prepare for extra congestion especially on the interstates in the path on the day before, day of and day after the eclipse. Avoid travel during the eclipse or in the area of the main path if you can,” the statement said.

If you are still looking to make a reservation within the path of totality, you can visit NASA listed several public parks in the path of totality on their website but caution parking at these locations could be a problem on the day of the solar eclipse.

We looked into the camping availability around these and many were already booked. Some are on a first-come, first-serve basis, so you might have to head out a few days before the eclipse to snag a spot.

John Day Fossil Beds, Oregon

Most campgrounds at the John Day Fossil Beds are first-come, first-serve, apart from Clyde Holliday State Park where campers can reserve tepees to sleep. Clyde Holliday State Park is completely booked through the solar eclipse. Other first-come, first-serve campsites are filling up fast a little more than a week out from the big event.

Craters of the Moon, Idaho

According to website, Craters of the Moon Group Campground is fully reserved until Aug. 26. The next closest campground is Copper Basin Guard Station which has selected spots open Aug. 22 but not for the two days leading up to the eclipse.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The Grand Teton National Park’s phone line for campground reservations pertaining to eclipse states it “is anticipated to be the busiest day in the history of Grand Teton National Park.” The park says reservation requests have picked up since Monday and they are expecting gridlock with the number of visitors heading to the park.

Fort Laramie National Historic Site, Wyoming

The closest campground to this site would be the La Prele Guard Station. They are fully booked during the eclipse.

Scott’s Bluff National Monument, Nebraska

Scott’s Bluff does not take reservations through But hiking is available.

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Nebraska

Campgrounds are not located within this park but there are privately run sites nearby.

Homestead National Monument of America, Nebraska

This national park does not have campgrounds. However, about 7 miles away is the Beatrice Mary Family YMCA that has limited campgrounds available. They are charging $20 per night but it does not include electric hookups or showers. To take a shower at the YMCA a day pass would need to be purchased.

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, Nebraska

Does have some campgrounds along the trail but you cannot make reservations through Their website recommends checking the area in which you plan to visit for information on nearby campgrounds as some might be privately owned.

Harry S. Truman National Historic Site Historic Site, Missouri

There aren’t campgrounds at the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site. Windsor Crossing part of Harry S. Truman Lake would be the nearest campground to this location. They still have spots open for reservation.

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, Missouri

There are a few campgrounds near Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. Dam West at the Carlyle Reservoir is first-come, first-serve. If you head down toward Mark Twain National Forest the Council Bluff Recreation Area and Silver Mines campgrounds are both first come first serve.

Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Tennessee

The Fort does not accept reservations through the website. But the closest campgrounds to this site are the Bumpus Mills, Hurricane Creek and Eureka campgrounds. All three of these sites are fully reserved for the eclipse. The nearby Canal campground takes walk-up requests for sites.

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

This park has two campgrounds. Maple Springs and Mammoth Cave Campgrounds but both are reserved through the eclipse.

Stones River, Tennessee

Seven Points, Anderson Road and Cedar Creek campgrounds spots for tents and RVs during the eclipse are reserved.

Obed Wild & Scenic River, Tennessee

Obed Wild & Scenic River has campgrounds on location but they have been booked for months according to the park. Back country permits are still available and free through their website. There is a private Lily Pad campground that is adjacent to the park but it is first-come, first-serve.

Manhattan Project National Historic Park, Tennessee

This park does not have campgrounds on its premises. There are some nearby.

Appalachian Trail, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia

Most campsites along the Appalachian Trail are first-come, first-serve, and they do not take reservations. The area of the park that falls along the path of totality is part of a national forest and there will be many areas to set up camp. If you’re interested in hiking the trail for the eclipse the park recommends that you visit their website on camping regulations.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

This park has several campsites around the park. However, all campgrounds in proximity to the line of totality are fully booked. That includes the backcountry campgrounds as well.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Tennessee and North Carolina

The Mount Pisgah Campground will be the closest to the path of totality. They no longer have availability for campsites Sunday, Aug. 20, or Monday, Aug. 21.

Ninety-Six National Historic Site, South Carolina

This park is a day park and does not have camping on the premises. The closest federal park with campsite nearby would be Nancytown Group Campground and it is booked on the days of the total solar eclipse. The park recommended the nearby Lake Greenwood State Park for camping but they are also fully reserved.

Congaree National Park, South Carolina

This federal park's campgrounds are reserved until Aug. 23.

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, South Carolina

This historic site does not have campgrounds on the premises. The closest campground would be Buck Hall Recreation Area and they do not have any availability on the days of the eclipse

Fort Sumter National Monument, South Carolina

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This historic site does not have campgrounds on the premises. The closest campground would be Buck Hall Recreation Area and they do not have any availability on the days of the eclipse.

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