Total solar eclipses lasting over four minutes don’t come along too often. Nor is it usual for an eclipse path to be primarily over land rather than ocean. No wonder excitement is building for the long totality coming to Mexico, the U.S. and Canada on April 8, 2024—exactly one year!
Totality—when the Moon blocks the Sun and for a few minutes reveals it to be a bright, white star floating in space—will last as long as 4 minutes 26 seconds from a 100-120 miles-wide path of totality that stretches from Mazatlán, Mexico through the U.S. to exit at Newfoundland, Canada.
We can’t, of course, pretend that an eclipse of the Sun on North America is particularly rare. After all, many readers will still cherish the relatively recent memory of a much shorter totality on August 21, 2017 during what was dubbed the ‘Great American Eclipse’. However, that was the first one since 1979 and the next one is in 2045.
In fact, as the path of totality enters the U.S. at Texas the chances of a clear sky significantly plummet to about 50%, reducing even more as the path reaches the northeastern U.S. states, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. For example, Niagara Falls – surely a honeypot location for many eclipse-chasers in the region – has a high chance of cloud, as does much of the path through the U.S. And Canada. But on the day, anything can happen. The location with the highest chance of a clear sky may have 100% cloud and vice versa, but as a starting point it pays to know where to go to maximize your chances of a clear sky.
Here’s where to be to share a long totality with over 32 million North Americans, (and as many as 50 million), plus visitors, which could make it the biggest celestial event in human history (and it could even reach 50 million.
1. Mazatlán, Mexico (4 minutes 17 seconds, 11:07)
With the highest probability of a clear sky, many consider Mazatlán on the Pacific coast of Mexico to be the premier location for observing this awe-inspiring celestial event. Just north of the centerline, but with plenty of totality, a key observing spot is bound to be the old town and, in particular, the El Faro de Navegación Marítima, the highest lighthouse in the Americas. Sure, there are warnings about drug gang-related violence in Sinaloa province, but this seaside town is an exception.
2. Nazas, Durango, Mexico (4 minutes 28 seconds, 12:15)
Nazas, population 5,000, is the closest village to the “point of greatest eclipse”, but that’s not hugely relevant because it’s just a second or so more than other places discussed here. However, it also has statistically the highest chance of clear skies. Slightly northeast of Nazas and southwest of Torreón on the centerline are the rugged Sierras de Nazas mountains and the Canon de Fernandez, which are carved by the Nazas River and popular for hiking and camping.
3. Torreón, Coahuila, Mexico (4 minutes 11 seconds, 12:16)
Eclipse-chasers from all over the world will flock to Torreón on the Mexican Plateau not to witness the eclipse, but to use it as a base for expeditions to the arid-desert region to the northwest and an exceptional chance of clear skies and a prolonged totality. However, boast a historic center dating back to the Mexican Revolution, but it also serves as an excellent base
4. Mexico-U.S. border (4 minutes 24 seconds, 13:27)
Close to the Mexican border in Texas is where to go if you want to be among the first in the U.S. to experience totality. The centreline passes over Maverick County International Airport and Radar Base, though Del Rio slightly to the northwest—which has about 3 minutes 20 seconds of totality—will host the Oasis of Texas Solar Fest: April 8, 2024. It’s close to Lake Amistad in the Amistad National Recreation Area.
5. Stonehenge II, Ingram, Texas (4 minutes 25 seconds, 13:31)
The original 5,000 years old monument in Salisbury Plains, England won’t get totality until June 10, 2393, but anyone after the closest experience possible should get themselves to this concrete art project in Texas Hill Country for a Neolithic totality. At least it’s more convincing that Carhenge in Nebraska, which experienced totality during the 2017 total solar eclipse.
6. Fredericksburg, Texas, U.S. (4 minutes 23 seconds, 13:32)
Fredericksburg is in the heart of Texas Hill Country, which is destined to be a busy place on April 8, 2024. It’s a town of tourist shops, country town charm and museums, not least the Pioneer Museum and the National Museum of the Pacific War. The region comes alive with wildflowers each spring … but in 2024 it will be eclipse-chasers in their thousands that bring the color.
7. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Texas, U.S. (4 minutes 25 seconds, 13:33)
Just north of Fredericksburg is a pink granite dome 325 ft. above the surroundings called the Enchanted Rock. While bound to be busy—if not totally booked-up—the rock formations and scenery will make it a place to be. It’s also an International Dark Sky Park, so hang around after dark.
8. Eclipse Over Texas: Live from Waco, Texas, U.S. (4 minutes 13 seconds, 13:38)
Waco is among the first cities located near the centerline of the eclipse path after the eclipse path enters the U.S. A big public viewing event is being planned for the grounds of McLane Stadium by Flagstaff, Arizona’s Lowell Observatory (where Pluto and the expanding Universe were discovered), the City of Waco, Baylor University and Warner Brothers Discovery. Tickets may be purchased at eclipseovertexas2024.com.
9. Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas, U.S. (3 minutes 38 seconds, 13:47)
Just before totality the last rays of Sun are visible shining through the valleys of the Moon. They narrow to form one bead of light, forming a beautiful “diamond ring” around the Moon to signal the beginning of totality. It happens again to end totality. Why not make it a trio by visiting this state park, one of the only places in the world where the public can search for real diamonds in their original volcanic source.
10. Nimrod Lake, Arkansas, U.S. (4 minutes 16 seconds, 13:49)
For some remote locations April 8, 2024 is but the beginning of a double-pronged eclipse adventure. Nimrod Lake is a lonely corner of Arkansas is set to experience over 10 minutes of totality in 21 years because after 2024 comes a whopping 5 minutes and 48 seconds of totality on August 12, 2045 during North America’s next really big eclipse.
11. Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Little Rock, Arkansas (3 minutes 26 seconds, 13:50)
There’s are other places in Arkansas that will see two eclipses in 21 years. The second state capital to experience totality after Austin in Texas, the 200,000 people of Little Rock will experience 2 minutes 29 seconds of totality on April 8, 2024. However, a better place to be could be Pinnacle Mountain State Park to the northeast, which has over 22 miles of trails and will experience an extra minute of totality in 2024—and 5 minutes 41 seconds in 2045.
12. Bald Knob Cross of Peace, Illinois, U.S. (4 minutes 8 seconds, 13:58)
One of the highest places in southern Illinois, about 700 people on the Bald Knob Cross of Peace in Alto Pass experienced a 2 minutes 39 seconds totality on August 21, 2017. It will get almost double that on April 8, 2024.
13. Niagara Falls, Canada (3 minutes 27 seconds, 15:18)
It’s something a miracle that Niagara Falls is in the path of totality on April 8, 2024. For views of the eclipsed sun over the water the Canadian side of the falls is where to be, specifically on the Niagara River’s western shore because it overlooks the Horseshoe Falls. It’s also home to the Skylon Tower.
14. Mount Katahdin, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Maine (3 minutes 24 seconds, 15:30)
Maine’s highest point at 5,267 feet (1,605 meters) and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Mount Katahdin sits almost directly on the centerline of the path of totality and will be an ideal location for unobstructed views—though it’s a strenuous 12-hour ascent. Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is also designated as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary, making it an ideal destination for stargazing.
15. Mont Mégantic Observatory, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada (3 minutes 28 seconds, 15:28)
While Montreal is located on the edge of the path, the ultimate viewing location in Canada for stargazers could be Mont-Mégantic National Park and, more specifically, Mont Mégantic Observatory. Positioned almost dead-on the centerline of the path of totality path, the observatory is set to provide an unparalleled view of the event.
These are just a very tiny selection of places to watch the eclipse from—there are numerous others within the path of totality.
Disclaimer: I am the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com and author of “The Complete Guide To The Great North American Eclipse of April 8, 2024.”
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.