Best National Parks To See Solar Eclipse 2012

The sun and moon (rather than the stars) will align to give a great opportunity for those living in the West to view a solar eclipse on May 20, 2012 at a large number of National Parks. Even better, the 20th falls on Sunday which should allow even more people to get out and witness this exciting event.

Approximately 30 national parks are located in areas where a “ring of fire” solar eclipse can be seen with six of these National Parks offering a near perfect centering of the moon during thesolar eclipse. There are another 125 National Parks where the eclipse can be seen, but where it will only be “merely wonderful” according to the National Park Service.

full solar eclipse

For those who want to get the absolute best view of the solar eclipse, there are six National Parks where the moon will be centered and cover 96% of the sun. These include:

  • Canyon de Chelly National Monument
  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Petroglyph National Monument
  • Redwoods National Park (the best views will be on the beach away from the tree cover)
  • Zion National Park

For example, those who plan to watch the solar eclipse from Petroglyph National Monument will have the opportunity to see the moon centered while covering 96.5% of the sun. The solar eclipse “annularity” will last for four minutes and 26 seconds beginning at 7:33 PM MDT, and the eclipse will end when the sun sets behind the horizon at approximately 8:30 PM. Even when the moon is centered, there won’t be total darkness as this will not be a full eclipse of the sun, and bright ring of light will still shine outward surrounding the moon.

National Parks Where Solar Eclipse with Moon Centered Can Be Seen

Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Petroglyph National Monument
Redwoods National Park
Zion National Park

National Parks Where Solar Eclipse Can Be Seen

Visitors to these National Parks will see a solar eclipse, but the moon will be slightly off-center during the period that its shadow falls across the sun.

Aztec Ruins National Monument
Bandelier National Monument
Bryce Canyon National Park
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Capitol Reef National Park
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Chaco Culture National Historical Park
El Malpais National Monument
El Morrow National Monument
Fort Union National Monument
Grand Canyon National Park
Great Basin National Park
Hovenweep National Monument
Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site
Lava Beds National Monument
Mesa Verde National Park
Natural Bridges National Monument
Navajo National Monument
Oregon Caves National Monument
Pecos National Historical Park
Petrified Forest National Park
Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument
Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area
Wupatki National Monument
Yucca House National Monument

National Parks Where Partial Solar Eclipse Can Be Seen

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site
Chamizal National Monument
Effigy Mounds National Monument
Fort Larned National Historic Site
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Harry S. Truman National Historic Site
Isle Royale National Park
Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
Mississippi River National Recreation Area
Nicodemus National Historic Site
Pipestone National Monument
St. Croix River National Scenic River
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Voyageurs National Park
Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

May 20th should be a wonderful opportunity to witness this rare event in some of the most beautiful places in the US.

(Photo courtesy of Badruddeen)

Canyon Overlook Trail Zion National Park

One of my favorite (relatively) easy hikes (there is some steepness at the beginning and those really scared of heights won’t like the bridge — sections of the trail have rails to keep you from accidentally wandering too close to the steep edges) at Zion National Park is one that too many people miss due to its location. The Canyon Overlook trailhead is at the east end of the tunnel after leaving Zion Valley (there is a small parking lot at the end of the tunnel where you can park). Since it isn’t in Zion Valley where most people instinctively head and spend all their time, they miss this little gem which definitely is worth making the time to do.

The Canyon Overlook hike is only 1 mile round trip and gives a wonderful view of Zion Valley. For those who want to see a grand view of part of Zion Valley, but don’t want to (or can’t) tackle the more rigorous hikes like Observation Point, this will give a spectacular view. The trail winds along Pine Canyon Creek with the Zion-Mt Carmel Tunnel on the opposite side. The hike ends at a railed observation overlook with lower Zion Canyon below (with the famous Zion road switchbacks) and the Beehives, West Temple, East Temple, Towers of the Virgin and the Streaked Wall across the valley. Here are a few photo so you can judge for yourself:

canyon overlook trail

canyon overlook trail railing

canyon overlook trail bridge

canyon overlook trail cove

canyon overlook trail hike zion

canyon overlook trail hike

canyon overlook trail zion national park

canyon overlook trail zion valley

Visiting Zion National Park

Submitted by: sylvia

Impressions: It felt like we had traveled to the bottom of the Grand Canyon as we weaved in and out to the bottom!

Tips: Be prepared to be WOW’d!

Must-sees: Definitely experience the whole drive through Zion National Park.

Sylvia also had this to say: It was my first time out west ( virginian here) and the one thing that I had not counted on was how fast the elevations changed. I knew it was high elevations, I did not know you could go from 2,000 to 8,000 in a few minutes!

Best Day Hike in Zion National Park: Observation Point Trail

Submitted by: Terry Tyson, A Hiking Fool and his Photo Log

Impressions: The Grand Canyon may touch your heart with its massive grandeur, but Zion National Park touches your soul. Unless you venture beyond the rim of the Grand Canyon, it’s likely to remain as humbling and impressive as the beautiful prom queen you admired, but never dated in high school. But Zion demands a personal connection because there is no other way to experience the canyon other than to be physically immersed in its beauty and wonder.

“Zion” in Hebrew, refers to a place of refuge, a holy sanctuary. It’s easy to understand why this special place was named Zion for it does provide you with a sense of spiritual solace.

There are many “classic” hikes within the canyon, each with their own special characteristics and charms. But for me, the best of the “classic” hikes is to Observation Point. It’s likely the most difficult of the classics, but the payoff for your efforts are many.

Tips: Park your car and take the shuttle. The park shuttle will take you from the front gate to the end of the canyon and back. The cost of the shuttle is included with your entrance fee. It’s handy, comfortable and allows you to enjoy the place without worrying about traffic.

The town shuttle (aka “Springdale Shuttle”) is also handy. It will take you from the front gate to the end of town, dropping you off at convenient locations near eateries, shops and hotels. It’s also a bargain because it’s free.

Both shuttles run from early April to the end of October.

Oh yeah, don’t forget to bring a lot of water on any hike you do in the park. Natural water sources are unreliable and may not be safe to drink.

Must-sees: If you even of moderate stamina, don’t miss Observation Point. The hike is longer and higher than its more well-known cousin, Angels Landing, but provides more incredible visual treats. Echo Canyon, a hanging, hidden canyon about 1/3 of the way up is a stunning surprise. It’s mentioned sometimes only in passing in some guides, but the first time you encounter it will be one of the reasons you’ll want to return.

Because it’s a more challenging hike, you’re likely to see fewer folks on the trail. But be prepared to gain elevation fast as the trail presents not only the entire canyon to view, but also the less seen East Mesa portion of the park.

When you do reach Observation Point, take a moment to look down upon the Big Bend of the Virgin River, Angels Landing and the entrance to The Narrows from this lofty perch. Bring a map so you can identify all of the landmarks within the view.

Echo Canyon; Observation Point Trail

East Mesa from Observation Point Trail

View from the top: Observation Point

Terry Tyson also had this to say: Zion gets busy during the summer, despite the heat. The best time to visit is in the spring or fall. If you’re wanting to hike in The Narrows, it’s best to wait until late summer or early fall when the water level is lowest.