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Solar Eclipse By Boat: Discover Boating’s Top 7 On-Water Viewing Spots

Detroit Lake, Oregon
 Photo Credit: Oregon State Marine Board

On August 21, the United States will see its first total solar eclipse in 99 years. The shadow of the moon will cut through the entire nation from Oregon to South Carolina.

Where will you catch this rare solar eclipse event? Experience these prime viewing destinations by boat.

The last time the U.S. had an exclusive total eclipse was in 1776 and people are traveling from all over the world to hotspots in the path of totality, a 60-mile wide path across the U.S. that can see the full eclipse versus a partial eclipse. Take that solar eclipse trip up a notch and enjoy the eclipse from a different vantage point – on the water.

An estimated 142 million Americans go boating each year, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which shows boating is more accessible than many think, making a boat an ideal spot to catch this rare solar phenomenon.

Check out Discover Boating’s top on-water spots in the path of totality for optimum solar eclipse viewing:

Salem, Oregon

  • Willamette River – This major tributary of the Colombia River is one of the most popular boating spots in Oregon. It’s a great place for cruising, fishing, kayaking as well as wildlife viewing and camping with numerous public boat launches for easy access.
  • Detroit Lake – With more than 30 miles of shoreline, this lake offers another on-water option in the path of totality southeast of Salem with marinas, boat ramps and rental opportunities.
  • Links: Oregon Eclipse Boat Ramp Map; Travel Salem; Oregon State Marine Board
  • Full Eclipse Start Time: 10:17 a.m. PDT

Jackson, Wyoming

  • Jackson Lake – Located in Grand Teton National park, it is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the U.S. It offers visitors breathtaking views of the Teton Mountains and on-water fun from cruising, sailing, fishing and watersports. Camping and hiking are also popular on the lake’s 15 islands. Local marinas offer boat rentals, but please note that Signal Mountain Lodge accepts reservations for deck cruisers, pontoon boats and runabouts. All motorboats, canoes and kayaks are on a first-come-first-served basis at both Signal Mountain and Colter Bay Marina.
  • Links: Jackson Hole Magazine; Signal Mountain Lodge; Grand Teton National Park
  • Full Eclipse Start Time: 11:34 a.m. MDT

Kansas City, Missouri

  • Lake Jacomo – Lake Jacomo is a 970-acre freshwater reservoir located near Blue Springs, Missouri. Visitors can enjoy cruising, sailing and fishing, plus there’s three marinas that offer slips and rental options.
  • Longview Lake – Located minutes from Kansas City, Longview Lake boasts 930 acres of shoreline for boating from watersports and personal watercraft to fishing and more. The full-service marina offers boat rentals, fishing supplies and slip rentals.
  • Links: Visit KC; Lake Jacomo; Longview Lake
  • Full Eclipse Start Time: 1:08 p.m. CDT

Carbondale, Illinois

  • Lake of Egypt - Take in the eclipse and a day on the water at Lake of Egypt, which has more than 90 miles of shoreline and plenty of boating activities from waterskiing to fishing and more. Marinas and boat rental companies offer pontoon, wakesport boat and personal watercraft rentals.
  • Links: Enjoy Illinois; Invert Sports Rentals
  • Full Eclipse Start Time: 1:20 p.m. CDT

Hopkinsville, Kentucky

  • Lake Barkley: Located about 35 minutes from Hopkinsville, which has been deemed the best spot for eclipse viewing in the country, is Lake Barkley boasting more than 50,000 acres for popular boating activities, which include cruising, watersports, riding personal watercraft and fishing. Plus, rentals are available through the local marina.
  • Links: KY State Parks; Visit Hopkinsville; Lake Barkley Marina
  • Full Eclipse Start Time: 1:24 p.m. CDT

Nashville, Tennessee 

  • J. Percy Priest Lake – Located only 15 minutes from Nashville, Percy Priest is an ideal eclipse viewing locale. It’s a reservoir in the north central part of Tennessee, where fishing is very popular with several bass tournaments taking place here, but all boating is popular from watersports to a sunset cruise. Marinas offer all the essentials needed for a great day on the lake including numerous rental options and boat clubs.
  • Old Hickory Lake, Tennessee
Photo Credit: Emily Blincoe
  • Old Hickory Lake – With 440 miles of shoreline and eight marinas there’s an abundance of boating opportunities and prime eclipse viewing from the water.
  • Links: Percy Priest Lake; Old Hickory Lake
  • Full Eclipse Start Time: 1:27 p.m. CDT

Charleston, South Carolina

  • Intracoastal, Isle of Palms Waterway: Only 30 minutes from Charleston, the Intracoastal offers abundant boating and rental opportunities from fishing to watersports and everything in between.
  • Charleston Harbor –An Inlet of the Atlantic Ocean formed by the junction of the Cooper and Ashley River with ample boating opportunities with numerous marinas, boat rentals, boat tours and fishing charters available.
  • Links: Isle of Palms Marina; Tidal Wave Boat Rentals; Fishing Charters; Charleston Powerboat Rentals
  • Full Eclipse Start Time: 2:46 p.m. EDT

Don’t miss the chance to see this total solar eclipse from the water and make the experience even more memorable by spending the day aboard a boat with family and friends.

Consider the following tips with help from our friends at the Oregon State Marine Board to ensure you have the best viewing experience on the water:

  • Arrive early. Expect traffic on highways and access points in the eclipse zones before and after the event. Arrive early, plan ahead and prep your boat before the event.
  • Anchor. Find a good spot to anchor, beach, moor or dock your boat before the eclipse. If underway, maintain a proper lookout.
  • Lights. Adhere to night time/restricted visibility lighting rules during the eclipse. Running lights are required during the eclipse. Anchor lights are required for power and sailboats at anchor.
  • Boating rules. Follow all rules of the water, including slow-no-wake zones, but also extend the courtesy of operating at slow-no-wake speeds within 100 ft. of other boaters.

Not a boat owner? Find boat rentals and clubs near these locations and close to home using Discover Boating’s Go Boating Today tool. For tips on proper solar eclipse viewing, visit NASA.gov and to prepare for a day on the water, visit DiscoverBoating.com for more boating tips and information.