Get Thee to Totality With an Epic Eclipse Road Trip


On April 8, 2024, the moon’s shadow will completely cover the sun for several minutes. The last total solar eclipse to travel across the United States was in 2017, and it won’t happen again for another 20 years. To celebrate, Atlas Obscura is throwing an out-of-this-world eclipse festival near Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas: four days of music, science, art, and wonder.

The path of totality is quite narrow, and the festival site in Arkansas is one of the best places to see the eclipse in its full glory. There are few things we love more than a good road trip, so we’ve put together this series of guides for getting to Hot Springs from other parts of the United States while exploring some fascinating places along the way.

A sign marking the beginning of historic Route 66 in Chicago.
A sign marking the beginning of historic Route 66 in Chicago. Gorup de Besanez / CC BY-SA 4.0

The starting point of the historic U.S. Highway 66, the “Mother Road” that helped define America’s love affair with the road trip, is in Chicago, which makes it feel like a fitting place to begin your drive. Cutting a path through Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas, you’ll have a chance to see a museum dedicated to hats, a reconstructed thousand-year-old solar calendar, and an adoption center for singing fish.

The Bell Witch Cave in Adams, Tennessee.
The Bell Witch Cave in Adams, Tennessee. Www78 / CC BY-SA 3.0

To get to Arkansas from Music City, you’ll be heading west on Interstate 40. But if you’re down for a short detour at the start of the drive, you can go north first and see the Bell Witch Cave, which lies at the heart of a 200-year-old ghost story that inspired The Blair Witch Project. Elsewhere along the route, you’ll find a car built just for Johnny Cash and one of Arkansas’s most acclaimed barbecue joints.

The Budweiser Clydesdales at Grant's Farm in St. Louis.
The Budweiser Clydesdales at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis. Carl Wycoff / CC BY 2.0

The route from St. Louis to Hot Springs holds quite a few treasures. There’s the farm where you can say hello to the Budweiser Clydesdales, a former mine that has become a deep underground lake, and some of the oldest exposed rock formations in the country.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Bachman-Wilson House at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Jeremy Thompson / CC BY 2.0

Heading south from Kansas City, you’ll have a chance to set foot in three different states at once, see a Frank Lloyd Wright house that was picked up and moved from New Jersey to the Ozarks, and even spending an afternoon mining your own quartz crystals, if you so choose.

The Charlotte Russe at Holtermann's Bakery in Staten Island, New York.
The Charlotte Russe at Holtermann’s Bakery in Staten Island, New York. Sam O’Brien/Atlas Obscura

This one is kind of a doozy—about 1,300 miles, down the mid-Atlantic and then west through the Appalachians—but the journey holds lots of amazing sights, from a Philadelphia cave where America’s first doomsday cult awaited the end of the world to a box that holds Dolly Parton’s final song. There are also natural wonders, including the largest natural land bridge in North America, and human-made ones like the Charlotte Russe, a jam-filled sweet treat that you can find at a 150-year-old bakery in Staten Island.





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