Solar Eclipse and Starry Night Viewing in Calaveras

Have you heard the buzz? We’re just days away from the first total solar eclipse the continental United States has seen since 1979!

The much lauded 2017 solar eclipse will take place on Monday August 21st in the late afternoon. If you can’t make the drive to the “path of totality” (stretching from Oregon to North Carolina), don’t worry, you can still enjoy a spectacular 2017 solar eclipse show in California.

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Instagrammer @jclairemaher gearing up for the 2017 Solar Eclipse. 

Thanks to our high elevation, clean mountain air and lack of light pollution, Calaveras County is an ideal destination for astronomy buffs of all ages. Whether you or your loved ones are first time night sky searchers or long-time star gazing aficionados, you won’t want to miss out on Calaveras’ world class star-gazing opportunities.

Looking for a place to experience the 2017 solar eclipse, Perseid meteor showers, or  other great astronomy events? Read on to learn when and where to get the job done!

Official 2017 Solar Eclipse Viewing Events in Calaveras

When choosing your solar eclipse viewing destination, here’s what you need to know:

 The 2017 Solar Eclipse explained via Instagrammer @SolarEclipseEarth.

Here in Calaveras,  our community offers two free expert-led solar eclipse event locations to help you get the best view of the 2017 solar eclipse possible.

New Melones Tuttletown Recreation Area: Eagle Point Picnic Area
Free Admission. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks the sun, revealing the sun’s radiant outer atmosphere known as the corona. Enjoy this rare lifetime event at New Melones Lake. Rangers will be available providing information and guidance on how to safely view the phenomenon. For additional information please contact Park Ranger Diana Popkins at 209-536-9094 ext. 218.
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Admission included with your ($10/vehicle) park entrance fee. For additional information call 1-209-736-0049. For updates keep an eye on our on-line calendar of events.

Stunning 2017 Solar Eclipse and Star-Gazing Solo Destinations

Whether seeking the 2017 solar eclipse, Perseid meteor shower, or stargazing use the list below to find the wilderness venue that is just right for you! Click each hyperlink for pictures and additional information.

Star-Gazing Destinations – Calaveras Lakes

Looking for spectacular night sky viewing? Featuring campgrounds at almost every lake destination, Calaveras lakes are a great option for star-gazing. From high elevation lakes in the Stanislaus National Forest to lower elevation lakes near convenient shops and restaurants–there are more than a dozen lakes in and around Calaveras for you to choose from.  Find the right Calaveras lake for you here:

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Instagrammer @alphawanderlust swimming through stars. 

Star-Gazing Destinations – Calaveras Campgrounds

Sunset and night hiking brings it’s own unique challenges. Even savvy backpackers encounter unique night-time challenges. Make sure to hike safely by planning ahead and speaking with trail experts before you hit the trail.

Instagram adventurer @jaslyngilbert enjoying campground Milky Way sightings last August.

RV & Camping Resorts

Stanislaus National Forest

  • National Forest Campgrounds -Visit the Stanislaus National Forest website to learn all you need to know to plan for a safe camping trip.

Dispersed Camping

  • Arnold Rim Trail – Visit the Arnold Rim Trail website to learn more about this spectacular 17+ mile network of trail and the dispersed camping options available.
  • Ebbetts Pass Trails – With an incredible range of options, Ebbetts Pass corridor offers hundreds of miles of pristine trails, ranging from the foothills to the High Sierra. Learn more about Ebbetts Pass trails
  • Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail- The MCCT is a non-motorized & multi-use trail bisecting California, roughly following the Mokelumne River from the river’s headwaters at the Sierra Crest down to the river’s mouth near Martinez on the Carquinez Strait. The trail is split up into five segments spread over six state counties. About one third of the MCCT is complete, with more trail added each year. Find more information on the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail here.

Calaveras Star Gazing Event Locations for 2017

Every year the Arnold Rim Trail Association, Calaveras Big Trees State Park and New Melones Lake host dozens of amazing events throughout all four seasons–including our favorite: after hours star gazing events! Find dates and activities below. Looking for additional details on each event? Visit our Calaveras County on-line calendar of events.

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Instagram photographer @brianfairleighphotography exploring the Stanislaus National Forest (via @gocalaveras).

1. Arnold Rim Trail

    • Guided Sunset/Full Moon Hike to Cougar Rock– Moderate guided hike with 4 mile total distance including 900ft of elevation gain. Learn more about the Arnold Rim Trail guided hikesPlease arrive at the parking lot at least fifteen minutes before departure time for introductions (this hike attracts wonderful folks) and a brief orientation by the hike leader, as departure times are prompt:
      • August 5th – Saturday (arrive by 6:20pm, hike departs promptly at 6:35pm)
      • September 5th – Tuesday (arrive by 5:40pm, hike departs promptly at 5:55pm)
      • October 5th – Thursday (arrive by 4:50pm, hike departs promptly at 5:05pm)

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Instagrammer @jesykapalmer enjoying the view at Cougar Rock. 

2. Calaveras Big Trees State Park

  • Astronomy Nights – (Free with Admission to Park) Enjoy the ancient night sky with the guidance of astronomy experts nestled between thousand year old towering ancient giant sequoias. 
    • August 3rd – Thursday 8pm
    • September 21st – Thursday 7:30pm
    • October 19th – Thursday 7pm
    • October 26th – Thursday 7pm

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Local photographer Claudia Beymer spots a local at Calaveras Big Trees State Park via the official @gocalaveras IG account.

3. New Melones Lake:

  • Perseid Meteor Shower: August 12th – Saturday 8pm (Free)
    • The Perseid Meteor Shower is an astronomical highlight every August. Join park rangers and discover what the night sky has to offer. Telescopes will be on hand for viewing. 
  • Nocturnal Happenings: August 19th – Saturday 8pm (Free
    • Join our park rangers and discover what travels by “dark feet and dark wings.” Learn about bats, owls and other nocturnal critters that call New Melones home, and experience the nighttime world using all your senses. The program will include a walk, an activity or two and a story.

Instagrammer @ollieshuvitz enjoying the sunset at New Melones Lake outside of Angels Camp, California. 

Looking for additional outdoor educational events? The Stanislaus National Forest hosts amazing summer long programs ranging from wilderness skills, wildlife viewing to cultural and heritage classes. You can view the entire 2017 Stanislaus National Forest Interpretative Program Schedule here.

Have a great eclipse and happy star-gazing!