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Eclipse viewing tips for national forest visitors


HOT SPRINGS — On April 8, the moon, earth, and sun will align in a total solar eclipse that will pass across a large portion of the Ouachita and Ozark‐St. Francis National Forests in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Visiting the National Forests is a wonderful way to enjoy the eclipse! The scenic integrity of national forests is unmatched, and the experience of enjoying the eclipse in solace is highly appealing. Reviewing the following eclipse tips about how to view the eclipse in a way that is safe and respectful of the natural beauty of the area will enhance any visitor’s experience!
Be Prepared! Bring and wear appropriate eye protection. The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special‐purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses.”
Be Fire Safe! Ensure that you know Smokey Bear’s rules for preventing wildfires. If you have a campfire, keep it small and make sure to “Drown, stir, feel” to put it all the way out when you are done. “Only you can prevent wildfires!”
Report any wildfires to 911. The national forests will not be conducting prescribed burning activities between April 6‐9, so if you see large areas of smoke, it could be from a wildfire.
Check for any county burn bans before you head out. Visit www.arkfireinfo.org for current burn bans and wildfires.
Don’t park vehicles in tall grass during dry conditions – hot engines and exhaust pipes can cause fires in dry grass.
Keep campfire areas Firewise. Clear out a secure space around your campfire, and keep defensible space around your sleeping areas in the event of an escaped campfire or wildfire.
Don’t leave any campfires unattended – if you plan to leave it, make sure it is out cold by dousing it with water or smothering it with dirt.
Be Aware and Be Patient! Unprecedented crowds could be in many areas around National Forest lands on and before April 8. Here are few tips to make your experience safer and more enjoyable:
Thoroughly research your destination and plan your trip accordingly. Leave your planned route and information about your departure and expected return with a friend or loved one.
Bring your own supplies: Have enough food and water for your entire stay.
Many parts or all of the forests are in areas where cell phone signals are weak or nonexistent. Consider alternative means of communication.
Have a map: Bring a paper map of where you are going or download directions ahead of time in case cell service goes out due to large crowds. Download Forest maps on the Avenza app! Visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/osfnf and follow the Eclipse Resources link for maps for National Forests in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Pack it in, pack it out! Bring trash bags and pick up any garbage from your viewing site and dump it in the nearest garbage receptacles on your way out.
Gas up! Fuel up before making the trek to remote areas to view the eclipse. Fuel shortages may cause long delays at the pumps before and after the event.
Drive slow and carefully! Many forest roads are winding, gravel roads with no shoulder or steep shoulders. If you pull over to watch the eclipse, make sure you are not blocking traffic in either direction; but also make sure you don’t get your vehicle stuck on a steep shoulder. Be alert of large vehicles like logging trucks on the road.
Avoid cliff edges at higher elevation locations. Watch children closely and keep pets on a leash.
The Arkansas youth turkey hunting weekend is April 6‐7. There will be turkey hunters in the woods. Wear bright colors while in the forest or on trails, but avoid red, white, or blue clothing during turkey season. The head of a male turkey can be a vivid red, powder blue, and white during spring.
Be informed! Follow us on Facebook (@ouachitanf and @ozarkstfrancis) for updated safety and fire information. Information updates could include closed areas or warnings of burn bans that prohibit campfires or other open flames for cooking.
Be Amazed! A total solar eclipse is an awe‐inspiring nature event that can be appreciated by everyone. To learn more about where you can go and what to do to protect yourself and the
National Forests, visit the Forests’ eclipse resources at www.fs.usda.gov/detail/osfnf.