Hot Springs National Park, nestled in the heart of Arkansas, is one of only two national parks in America that will be in the “path of totality” for the April 2024 total eclipse of the sun.
“That’s pretty cool,” says Bill Solleder, marketing director for Visit Hot Springs. “What better place to view this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon than a city that has a national park, mountains, hundreds of lodging, camping, RV and short- term rental opportunities, 200 dining establishments, dozens of attractions, three lakes and a citizenry that knows how to treat visitors like celebrities?” Visit Hot Springs has been planning for the April 8, 2024 eclipse since 2020, when the event’s path across America was made public. Visit Hot Springs received a Henry Award from the state Parks, Heritage and Tourism Department for Solleder’s early recognition of the opportunities presented by the eclipse and VHS’ plans to accommodate the anticipated influx of visitors.
“The only other national park in the path of totality is Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio,” says Solleder. “There are 17 other ‘sites’ like historical sites and monuments under the supervision of the National Park Service that will be in the path, but Hot Springs and Cuyahoga Valley are the only full-fledged national parks in the path. Hot Springs is dead center in the path of totality, which is the narrow strip of the country in which the sun will be totally dark.” Ashley N. Weymouth, interpretation programs manager for Hot Springs National Park, says HSNP is excited about the potential for visitors to choose the park to view the eclipse.
“As visitors start planning their trip, we encourage everyone to become familiar with park rules, to practice eclipse viewing safety, and be prepared for large crowds and heavy traffic. This phenomenal event is sure to be a spectacular sight and an incredible opportunity for all of us in Hot Springs,” says Weymouth. Solleder said Kim Williams, one of three travel writers with the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, will present a program on the 2024 eclipse at the Hotel Springs on August 24 at 2 p.m.
“Kim’s presentation is free and open to the public, but we plan to present key elements for Hot Springs’ hotel, restaurant and attraction partners,“ he said. “We want all our hospitality partners to be aware of things they should start doing now to accommodate what we believe will be a huge influx of eclipse observers.” “In 2017, the last solar eclipse visible from North America, Casper, Wyoming, saw a million people flood into their little town because Casper was in the path of totality,” says Solleder. “They were completely unprepared to accommodate an influx of that size. We want to be ready for a flood of people who come from all over the world to see the sun disappear completely in the Earth’s shadow during the eclipse.”
Solleder said Visit Hot Springs, with creative work by Marisa Rodgers, the agency’s digital media manager, has created a “micro-website” that has a countdown clock and links that can be used to connect with Visit Hot Springs to locate lodging and other information to begin planning for a trip to the city for the eclipse.
The micro-website is at http://www.totaleclipsearkansas.com/.