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RV options available in Southern Illinois for April’s eclipse | Illinois


(The Center Square) – Eclipse fever is building for people who are awaiting the 2024 Great North American Solar Eclipse, which will occur on Monday, April 8th. 

Tens of thousands of people are planning to hit the highways to drive to a community where they can experience “the path of totality.” That’s the ultimate solar eclipse viewing experience where the moon shadow completely covers the sun. 

Hotels and motels have been booked for months. Eclipse enthusiasts who want to avoid the hassles of day-tripping are opting for camping and using recreational vehicles.

Most Illinois residents will be able to see 95% or more of the eclipse at home, using a pair of inexpensive cardboard eclipse safety glasses that protect the eyes.

Only people in a few Illinois localities will experience 100% coverage of the sun and the “ring of fire” phenomenon that can only be seen during a total blackout.

Traveling to the path of totality sites can mean hours of stop-and-start traffic jams, packed rest stops with no parking and long waits at dining spots along the way.

Camping gives travelers the option of arriving a day or two early and avoiding the big traffic jams when everyone heads home at one time.

Thirty-one Illinois state parks that allow camping are located in or just outside the path of totality, including options near the Shawnee National Forest.

TCS - The path of totality for the solar eclipse this April as presented by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The path of totality for the solar eclipse this April as presented by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. 

Southern Illinois University in Carbondale has limited tent camping and RV parking on campus and nearby for their four-day 2024 Crossroads Eclipse Festival. The SIU pop-up campsite two miles from campus does not have electricity or water. Camping lets people stay in one of the best paths of totality viewing locations that is close to all the festival activities.

GoodSam, the RV website, has camping options in Illinois and across the country that may be available when the state campgrounds are filled up.  

“Private campgrounds are more likely to have openings, especially in areas experiencing a partial eclipse,” the GoodSam website says.

Newer options for RVers are the Harvest Host and Boondockers Welcome RV member clubs.

Harvest Host members park in the parking lots of businesses or farms for free. Stays are limited to 1 night in each location. Hosts include farms, restaurants, wineries and other businesses.

Boondockers Welcome is the sister organization that allows members with a self contained RV to dry camp for several nights on private property for free. 

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Caleb Alexander

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