With August 21 fast approaching, Cherokee National Forest is preparing for crowds. Here are a few things park officials want visitors to know to make sure your trip is as safe and enjoyable as possible.
It will be busy.
Developed campgrounds in the Ocoee and Tellico Ranger districts on the reservation system are booked for the weekend of the eclipse. There are some first come first served campsites and they are expected to fill up several days before the eclipse. And because a busy day is anticipated...
Parking will be limited.
Visitors should arrive early to park safely and legally. Parking is not allowed in or on the roads and spare for parking along roads and is very limited. Popular areas are very likely to fill up early in the day and campers/visitors may be directed to another part of the park.Forest Service Officials want to remind visitors to use extreme caution when driving and parking and to pay close attention to other vehicles, pedestrians, and bikers that will be sharing the roads.
The terrain is rugged.
Much of the terrain in the Cherokee National Forest is remote and rugged. High clearance vehicles are recommended got many roads. There are several locations outside of the regular, developed recreational areas of the park to view the solar eclipse that may have environmental or road access concerns associated with them. Many locations have dirt or gravel road leading to them with limited access, parling, crowd capacity, restricted traffic flow and no bathrooms or water.
Because the park is expected to be busy, planning ahead is highly recommended. Many remote spots for viewing the eclipse have no access to facilities or portable water. Campsites are expected to fill up, but the but camping outside the developed campground is allowed without a permit and is free. However, camping is not allowed within 100 feet of water, trails, trailhead parking lots and developed recreation areas or within 300 feet of the Cherohala Skyway and the Ocoee Scenic Byway.
Prepare for the unexpected.
Remember to be prepared for the unexpected. Due to the rarity of this event, the eclipse is expected to have impacts on highways, gasoline supplies and other basic needs. Bring plenty of water, food, sunscreen, insect repellant, extra clothing, first aid kit, a map and anything else you might need.
Check local weather forecasts periodically. If the weather is cloudy, the solar eclipse may not be visible. Remember: safety first, so don’t forget your solar eclipse viewing glasses.
For more information on the eclipse and solar eclipse safety visit https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/