Pine Bluff offers hassle-free solar eclipse tourism

The moon covers the sun during a total solar eclipse in Piedra del Aguila, Argentina, in this Dec. 14, 2020 file photo. (AP/Natacha Pisarenko)
The moon covers the sun during a total solar eclipse in Piedra del Aguila, Argentina, in this Dec. 14, 2020 file photo. (AP/Natacha Pisarenko)

Up to 1.5 million tourists are expected to flood Arkansas to experience the Great North American solar eclipse, and Pine Bluff is the perfect place to avoid the traffic congestion, stay in affordable accommodations, and enjoy the weekend-long Heart and SoulAR Eclipse Festival.

The Great North American Eclipse will be a historic occasion in Arkansas, as only two total eclipses have happened in the state's history. On April 8, about 1 p.m., the entire state of Arkansas will have at least 94% obscuration of the sun.

Two-thirds of the state will be in the path of totality, which will run through the center of Arkansas from southwest to northeast. The darkness will last approximately 4 minutes and 20 seconds, nearly twice as long as the darkness of the 2017 partial eclipse in Arkansas.

In light of this phenomenon, state officials are preparing for what has been dubbed the "largest tourist event in Arkansas history." The Arkansas Department of Transportation expects an influx of 700,000 vehicles as more than 3 million people will flock to Arkansas, doubling the state's population.

Large cities like Hot Springs, Little Rock and Jonesboro that are within the path of totality will experience most of the resulting traffic congestion extending from Interstate 49 in Fayetteville to Interstate 40 in Little Rock.

So, travelers who want to experience the eclipse but avoid the traffic congestion should stay in cities like Pine Bluff that are outside the path of totality. Although Pine Bluff is not in the direct path of totality, it will experience a "deep partial" with 98.7% obscuration.

The city of Pine Bluff is just 40 minutes away from Little Rock, offering affordable lodging and campsites, and even has a weekend festival called the Heart and SoulAr Eclipse Festival from April 5-8 that coincides with the solar eclipse.

The Heart and SoulAr Eclipse Festival will feature events including the Eclipse Golf Tournament, Oil Painting with artist Brenda Lawrence, the Riverfront Jazz Festival -- Sooth Your Soul, SoulAR Time with Jesus, and the Shells & Shadows Solar Crawfish Boil, and will culminate with Eclipse Viewing Parties at Saracen Landing and Pine Bluff's Main Library.

So make plans now to enjoy the solar phenomenon in the Natural State and avoid the traffic jams, by visiting Pine Bluff, Ark. Hotels and campsites will book up fast, as thousands of visitors will flood Pine Bluff to enjoy stress-free viewing of the Great American Eclipse. For more information on places to stay, visit

This article is from, a program of the Pine Bluff Advertising and Promotion Commission. Sources: ­-- Arkansas leaders preparing for tourism boom with 2024 Total Solar Eclipse; -- ARDOT preparing for heavy traffic during the 2024 total solar eclipse; -- Here's the traffic plan in Arkansas ahead of 2024 Total Solar Eclipse; -- What you need to know for I-49's traffic plan during the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse; -- Arkansas's Great North American Eclipse 2024. Image courtesy Explore Pine

Ninfa O. Barnard wrote this article for

Upcoming Events