Haven’t reserved a spot for August’s total solar eclipse yet? Many hotels and reservable campsites in the eclipse path are completely booked. But all hope is not lost. We’ve scouted out 21 first-come, first-serve camping destinations across the U.S. that are directly in the eclipse path of totality. You just need to be willing to arrive early or be able to rough it a bit.
If car camping is for you, you’ll need to snag a spot early. Having access to restrooms, picnic tables and fire pits can certainly make your stay more comfortable. Many sites are situated in the trees so you’ll need to hike or drive to a suitable eclipse-viewing spot. We’ve have suggestions for such places; you can find their exact locations by downloading the Cairn app. Be aware that most campsites allow a maximum 14-day stay, so you might be looking at getting to these as much as two weeks in advance to ensure you find one that’s available.
Note that every one of Oregon’s state park campsites have already been reserved, even those usually designated as first-come first-serve.
Backpacking and Dispersed Camping
With the right gear and a little flexibility you can take your eclipse experience to the backcountry. We’ve listed some backpacking destinations that should make for some fine eclipse viewing. But also consider dispersed camping: In the U.S. you can camp in national forests and in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas for free as long as you’re away from designated campgrounds. So that means millions of acres available for you to conceivably enjoy the eclipse without any crowds. You won’t have any services (like water and restrooms) so you’ll need to do a little extra planning. Bring water and be prepared to walk a little way from your vehicle. You’ll also have to get there early enough in the day to find a suitable spot.
A Word to the Wise
Check whether you’ll have cell coverage before you go (the Cairn app is the best place for this, of course). If you have spotty coverage it can be especially challenging to get a signal when there are crowds. Follow The Leave No Trace principals. Be respectful of others. And be especially careful of fire regulations. An unplanned wildfire would be most unwelcome in August. And finally, enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!