3 of the Best Places To View the Solar Eclipse in Illinois

Leigh Kunkel
| February 1, 2024 | 4 Minute Read
A woman poses with a thumbs up next to a dog mascot on a football field. Southern Illinois University Carbondale

On April 8, 2024, a rare celestial event will occur: a solar eclipse. While you can view the eclipse from most of North America, it’s most spectacular in the totality zone, that is, those places where the viewing angle means that the moon will completely eclipse the sun. This year, the zone crosses through southern Illinois and will draw thousands of viewers from around the world.


Home to Southern Illinois University, Carbondale will be one of the premiere locations for watching this solar event and attending related programming. The university is hosting the Southern Illinois Crossroads Eclipse Festival (above), with several days of eclipse-related programming. Visit the Crossroads Astronomy, Science and Technology Expo to learn about businesses that specialize in astronomy-related fields, check out the Chalk-eclipse junior high and high school chalk competition of eclipse art, and enjoy the arts and crafts fair. And when it comes time for the main event, head to Saluki Stadium and join Michelle Nichols of the Adler Planetarium for the viewing. Carbondale will have just over four minutes of darkness.

Three hikers rest on a rock formation with a view of the forest below. Courtesy of Illinois Office of Tourism

Garden of the Gods Recreation Area, Herod

The Shawnee National Forest is already a spectacular place for camping and stargazing, but its location in the eclipse totality zone means that it will be ideal for viewing the 2024 solar eclipse. Book a cabin or reserve a nearby campsite and hike to the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area, home to extraordinary rock formations (above) and a stunning location from which to watch the event. Herod will have roughly three-and-a-half minutes of darkness.

Onlookers gather under a large cross structure to observe an eclipse. Courtesy of The Associated Press All Rights Reserved

Bald Knob Cross, Alto Pass

The Bald Knob Cross (above) is a towering spiritual monument located in the Shawnee National Forest, and its elevation of 1,034 feet above sea level not only makes it visible for hundreds of miles, but also means that it provides a perfect platform for viewing the eclipse. Those who want to attend the event at Bald Knob Cross should buy tickets in advance; there are options for both casual and serious viewers, the latter being those who have telescopes or photography equipment. Alto Pass will have just over four minutes of darkness.

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