It’s an event of a lifetime—millions will flock to the areas of the world where the 2024 total solar eclipse will reach totality for a whopping 3 minutes and 37 seconds. (Nearly double the time of the 2017 eclipse that had the world in awe.) Hot Springs National Park is one of only two National Park's located in the Path of Totality for the 2024 Eclipse.
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, is directly in the path of totality. With preparations in the works for over a year now, the city is ready to take on the incredible numbers of travelers looking for the totality experience come April 8, 2024.
Hot Springs is an incredible vacation destination with unique attractions for travelers. But with little over 38,000 people, it is undeniably a small town. So how does such a town prepare for a convergence of millions of visitors? Casper, Wyoming (a town with about 20,000 more people) did it successfully in 2017. With this as a model, Hot Springs officials are confident the historical event will be doable, incredibly successful, and accommodating to worldwide visitors.
In a post from Visit Casper titled “The 146 Seconds that Changed Casper Forever,” they talk about what happened in this small town on August 21, 2017, at 11:42 a.m.
Visitors from six continents and one-hundred and forty-two countries journeyed to Casper to experience the Wyoming Eclipse Festival and this once-in-a-lifetime celestial event. The City welcomed scientists, photographers, media and an astounding number of first-time eclipse chasers. Working together, the community orchestrated over forty-five events, activities and opportunities to showcase the “best of” for residents and those who chose Casper as ground zero for their eclipse viewing experience. It was historic.
After Hot Springs’s 267 seconds of totality—nearly double the time of 2017—it’s exciting to think what the reports will say.
Local businesses and organizations are already planning events for “eclipse watch parties” to help mitigate vast crowds of people in one area. One prominent tourism hub planning an unforgettable event is Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.
“We are expecting a tremendous amount of people that will hopefully want to view the eclipse from our infield where you don’t have all the city lights, and you should get a really good dark sky,” Oaklawn VP of Marketing Chris Ho said.
With concerts, eclipse gear, and food and drink specials in the works, Ho said Oaklawn is getting ready, and just like most other local hoteliers, their rooms will be available for booking one year in advance, starting April 8, 2023.
Other locations hosting events for the 2024 Eclipse include Garvan Woodland Gardens, Mid-America Science Museum, Magic Springs Theme Park, The Garland County Library, Hot Springs National Park, Cedar Glades Park, The City of Hot Springs, and Visit Hot Springs. So whether you are with the family, significant other, or yourself — there will be an array of options on how to spend this celestial event in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
“Hot Springs National Park is looking forward to welcoming visitors to the park for the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse. The park is currently developing Eclipse programming and finalizing plans to ensure the safety of our visitors and resources.” - Ashley N. Waymouth, Interpretation Program Manager
City officials have already begun safety and traffic planning for the hustle and bustle of a good time. Hot Springs Fire Chief Ed Davis, who has been with the department since 1989 and chief since 2004, said they have never had to plan for an event as large as this one.
The safety studies began a year ago after hearing of the boom that rocked Wyoming in 2017.
“Those were eye-opening things, and so you know, at this point and time, we’re just trying to make sure that everybody who is a player as far as delivering services to the community is aware of the possibilities that the eclipse could bring to Hot Springs,” Davis said.
He said this novel event will be a great challenge, and they feel like they will be ready.
“Hot Springs is in a path of totality,” Davis said. “We have a lot of lodging, and we have a lot of places for people to stay and things for people to do, so it’s going to be a natural attraction for people to come to Hot Springs.
“I think it’s going to be a huge, huge week a few days after and a few days before the eclipse. It has the ability to be something that is record-breaking as far as the number of folks that visit us and the number of people that are in town in general during that time.”
With Hot Springs gearing up for this once-in-a-lifetime event that is one year away, the only question left to ask is: Are you ready? Hotels will take reservations one year in advance, so remember to get your lodging squared away before there is none left. As for planning the rest of your stay, look to the section above of local entities planning events on and around April 8, 2024.
Not only will you experience a total solar eclipse for 3 minutes and 37 seconds of your stay in Hot Springs, but you will also make the most out of your time in this vacation destination serving as an oasis in Arkansas. Plan and prepare to have the trip of a lifetime in April 2024! We look forward to having you.
Cassidy is a Hot Springs-based freelance journalist. In her free time, she enjoys playing games, skating, walking her dog Murphey and spending time with her nieces and nephews. Cassidy aspires to create a positive impact with her writing, be it fun or informative (or both!).