On April 8, 2024, northern Vermont will see a total solar eclipse around 3 in the afternoon, when the moon passes in front of the sun and throws the world into a few minutes of midday total darkness. Eclipses are rare – this is the first time since 1932 and the last until 2106 that northern Vermont will be in the “path of totality” – and popular – officials are expecting at least 200,000 visitors to descend on Vermont seeking a good view of the phenomenon.
April is known for another reason in Vermont, too – it’s mud season, known for variable conditions that can range all the way from sunny and springy to full-blown snowstorm. Dirt roads – 40% of our roads – will be muddy messes that can trap a car and block traffic. Lakes and bodies of water will be thawing quickly, if not already melted completely. Trails and summits will likely be covered in some combination of ice, snow, and mud. The alpine vegetation zones are susceptible to human footprints, and not designed for thousands of visitors, no matter the season. Trails on many state lands, including those on Mount Mansfield and Camel’s Hump, are closed by the state of Vermont.
We want visitors to enjoy their time in Vermont and experience this wonderful phenomenon, while keeping safety and stewardship top of mind. We urge visitors and locals alike to seek out eclipse viewing events in cities and towns, and avoid the backcountry during this transitional time.
Help protect Vermont’s special natural spaces, keep yourself safe, and spread the word for responsible eclipse viewing.
- General Eclipse Info
- Viewing Dos and Don’ts
- About Vermont’s Mountaintops
- General Eclipse Day Advice
- Where to Watch
General Eclipse Info
The Path of Totality will hit northern Vermont towns including Burlington, St. Albans, Montgomery, Stowe, Waterbury, Morrisville, Montpelier, Barre, and Newport. The longest duration of totality, at 3 minutes and 34 seconds, will be in St. Albans and Montgomery. In Montpelier, totality will last just two minutes. partial eclipse will begin around 2:14 p.m. and end around 4:37 p.m., with totality in the middle of that period. As the partial eclipse begins, the sky will gradually darken, and if it is clear, you will see the shadow of the moon slowly start to cross the surface of the sun. Eye protection is needed for the entire ~2 hour duration.
Viewing Dos and Don’ts
Anywhere you can see the sun, you will see the eclipse. Certified eclipse-viewing glasses are non-negotiable. Looking directly at the sun, even when partially obscured, can cause permanent eye damage. Eclipse glasses are readily available online and at local retailers. Even very dark sunglasses are not safe for viewing an eclipse. Use glasses certified by the American Astronomical Society, with an ISO standard of 12312-2.
You can also make a pinhole projector or view the eclipse through a telescope with a solar filter.
Cloud cover has a major impact on eclipse viewing. No matter what, you will experience the eclipse with darkness falling for around 3 minutes in the middle of the afternoon. But if its cloudy, you won’t be able to see the shadow of the moon crossing in front of the sun, or the corona of the sun behind the moon’s shadow during the duration of totality.
Unfortunately, Vermont has a pretty high chance of partly or mostly cloudy skies on April 8. We will know more about visibility chances as we get closer, but according to a NWS Meteorologist, based on historic patterns, the chance of a relatively clear day is between 10 and 20%.
Many eclipse chasers will base their April 8 plans on detailed forecasts closer to the event. Texas and Oklahoma have a far higher chance of clear skies than the northeast and Canada.
Resource: National Eclipse 2024 Weather Outlook
About Vermont’s Mountaintops
Vermont is home to the beautiful Green Mountains, and popular peaks such as Camel’s Hump, Jay Peak, and Mount Mansfield will all be in the path of totality. Early spring is a transitional and vulnerable time for our mountaintops and trails. We advise visitors to avoid the backcountry during this event, as conditions are unpredictable and may be dangerous.
Alpine Vegetation: Vermont is home to just 200 acres of rare, endangered alpine tundra habitat, on the peaks of Camel’s Hump, Mt. Abraham (not in the path of totality) and Mount Mansfield. These plants are extremely rare and vulnerable to trampling by human and dog footsteps. Please respect and preserve the ecological treasures by avoiding the alpine zones on eclipse day. They are even more vulnerable during mud season, late March – May, when thin high elevation soils are saturated and prone to erosion and compaction.
Winter and Variable Conditions: Early April may be warm and sunny in town, but at higher elevations winter conditions are likely to remain. If you seek a backcountry experience for eclipse viewing, you may find deep and drifted snow, ice, extreme weather, and possible precipitation. For safe winter hiking, you must be experienced and carry proper gear including snowshoes, microspikes or crampons; emergency supplies and shelter; a map and compass; and multiple layers. Keep in mind that should you get into trouble in the backcountry, emergency management and response teams will likely be unable to reach you or help you.
Mud Season: Vermont’s fifth season defined as the period between snowmelt and spring, usually late March – late May, but varies by year and by elevation. Tons of snow will melt, saturating dirt trails and roads and raising water levels. Hiking during mud season damages the trail, and trails on state lands are closed. We ask all hikers to avoid muddy, high-elevation trails. If you are hiking, go directly through the mud rather than around it, or turn around.
Camping: State parks and campgrounds are closed in early April and are not designed for winter use. Long Trail backcountry shelters and overnight sites are not maintained for winter use, though they are open on a first-come, first serve basis year round, and are shared by multiple parties. Use privies (outhouses) if they are available, or follow these guidelines for waste:
Please pack out all gear, food, trash, human and pet waste. Follow more Leave No Trace principles here.
If you do go: Please be prepared and plan to take care of yourself and your party in the event of an emergency, as emergency resources will be spread quite thin. Pack the Ten Essentials. Please avoid high-elevation trails and muddy trails. Remember that cell service may be limited, even in places where you typically do have service. Oh, and don’t be alarmed when it gets dark in the middle of the afternoon – daylight will return!
Resource: TrailFinder Closed Trails (will be updated mid-March to reflect mud season closures)
General Total Solar Eclipse Day Advice
In general, we advise you to pick a place to view the eclipse, get there early, and stay there. Expect crowds and all the joys and challenges that come with them. Here are a few reminders and things to be prepared for:
- Expect traffic jams both before and after the eclipse. Fill up your car with a full tank of gas, and be mindful of your gas level when idling. Turn off your car when in standstill traffic.
- Cellular networks may be overwhelmed and you may have an extremely difficult time making calls, sending messages, and accessing data like driving directions. Plan ahead, pick a meeting place, and have a contingency plan in case if you can’t find people or can’t stick to your original plan.
- Pack plenty of food, water, layers, a first aid kit, toilet paper, and more in your car. Once you get to a viewing location, it will be impossible to leave to get supplies.
- Going to the bathroom: Event organizers should be providing porta potties and other public restrooms. Please do your part to use them and leave them as clean as possible. If you need to use the woods, please follow these guidelines and pack out all toilet paper and trash. Bring a plastic garbage bag with you.
- Anywhere you can see the sun, you can see the eclipse. So if you’re stuck in traffic, or can’t make it to an event or location – don’t panic! Embrace the chaotic vibes and enjoy the eclipse wherever you are, with whoever you are with.
Where to Watch
This is an incomplete list of promising locations and events. GMC does not have any affiliation with any of the below events. We strive to provide accurate information, but all event info is subject to change, and many will reach capacity. Please reach out directly to event organizers with specific questions.
Vermont State Parks is opening the following parks, located in the path of totality, in a limited capacity. Trails will remain closed and some facilities, like flush toilets, may not be open. Outhouses/restrooms of some kind will be available. Parking will be limited and viewers are advised to arrive early. Park openings are subject to change and will be updated here.
- Boulder Beach (Groton, at southern limit of path of totality)
- Crystal Lake (Barton, NEK, total view)
- DAR (Addison, Lake Champlain lakefront, total view)
- Elmore (Lake Elmore, total view)
- Mt. Philo (Charlotte, total view, the toll road will be open for hiking to the peak, trails closed)
- Grand Isle (total view, Lake Champlain lakefront)
- Knight Point (North Hero, total view, Lake Champlain lakefront)
- Little River (Waterbury, reservoir waterfront, total view)
- Niquette Bay (Colchester, Lake Champlain lakefront, total view)
- Waterbury Center (Waterbury, reservoir waterfront, total view)
- Obscura BTV by Burlington City Arts – citywide
- Echo Center Eclipse Festival (April 5-7) and Viewing ($0-$21)
- Transcend at BTV Airport ($100)
- Shelburne Museum ($15-$25)
- All Burlington Events
- Totality in Taylor Park in St. Albans (free)
- “The Whiteout” at Jay Peak Ski Area
- Champlain Beaches
- Colchester Causeway
- Champlain Islands
- Sun + Moon + You at the Fairbanks Museum, St. Johnsbury
- More on experiencing the eclipse in the Northeast Kingdom
The total eclipse is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and northern Vermont will be a hotbed of eclipse chasers. Protect yourselves and our mountains: Stick to organized events in the front country, and expect winter conditions in the mountains.