Millions of Americans and visitors are planning on watching the Great Eclipse this August 21, 2017 and it’s not too late to plan a trip. Although hotels have been sold out for years, it’s still possible to camp in prime viewing spots throughout the US. I put together this guide of Eclipse Tips to plan your trip in less than a month.
Find Your Viewing Spot
Finding a great place to see the eclipse will take research and a bit of luck:
- There are many maps, including great interactive maps that will tell you exactly how long the eclipse will last, including partial and totality. Google “2017 Eclipse Map”
- The eclipse viewing wildcard: Clouds. You can check historical weather, but it does come down to luck. The Oregon coast may not be the best place for viewing given the regular fog cover in the mornings – when the eclipse will cross that area.
- Consider traffic – are the roads leading in and out one lane, interstate highways, etc? How close are they to populous cities? Since much there are huge populations from Portland up to Seattle, I’m guessing I-5 will be a nightmare after the eclipse. If you live north of the path, it may be wiser to view on the northern side of the path, as opposed to a site on the southern side, and vice versa.
- If camping, consider the amenities available. Consider price, comfort, and amenities. I spent a lot of time researching and have seen tent camping for as much as $750 for two people so look for deals. There are still several Oregon cities such as Fossil, Spray, John Day, and Long Creek that are offering camping where the proceeds go towards the school, city, etc. Prices range from $150-300 for tent camping, more for RV.
Based on the above criteria, I have chosen to watch the eclipse in Spray, Oregon for the following reasons:
- The partial eclipse starts at 9:08 and total eclipse is at 10:21, lasting for 1 minute and 50 seconds. This is only a few seconds less than the longest possible total eclipse.
- East of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon is usually cloud-free, especially in the summer.
- Although the roads in this area are only 2-lane, there aren’t huge cities north of this area. There are several county and state roads that can be taken north and we will avoid I-5.
- We found a great private campsite on the John Day river in the town. We reserved a spot for 16 people for $500 with room for 2 RVs and 4 cars next to the river – prime for swimming and tubing. The campsite confirmed they will have 17 porta-potties, and taps for drinking and washing. If you’re interested in joining our group, we have a few spots if you pitch in for your share of the camping fee. Find my e-mail address on the “Contact Me” tab.
Get Your Glasses
Stay safe and don’t look at the sun until the eclipse is at totality. I was lucky to pick up a couple pairs on my blogger swag bag during my tour of NASA’s Marshall space center in May. But viewing glasses are really cheap and you should buy from one of NASA’s recommended companies. Note that some glasses sold by Amazon are deemed as counterfeits.
Prepare your vehicle for the Trip
One of the most important things to consider is traffic could be crazy and many of the viewing locations are in remote areas with few services. Make sure you fill your vehicles with gas every chance you get.
Secondly, take extra water and protection from the sun in case something bad happens.
Camping? – Pack the Essentials
- Bring lots of water. I plan on filling and freezing several empty 2-liter bottles as ice for my cooler. I’ve found these can last a couple days and you can drink the ice cold water as it melts.
- Bring plenty of food. Mini marts and restaurants in the more remote areas may sell out of items or have lines around the block. If you’re planning to cook, bring all the gear you need.
- Bring sun protection – in addition to sunscreen, it’s worth bringing a large golf umbrella as many of the campsites in the west lack ample shade.
- Have a light – make sure you have batteries for your flashlight for that 2am port-a-potty run.
- Bring something to pass the time. Cards, board games, sports gear. We’re staying by the river so a raft or floats might be fun.
- Stay comfortable. A good mattress and pillow can make a lot of difference. I invested in a cot tent a couple years ago and it’s great to be a little bit above the ground and have my own space.
Plan Your Party
Now that you have the essentials, it’s time to plan your party. Consider sky, sun, and moon themed music, food, and drink.
Music – Here Comes the Sun, Islands in the Sun, Moonraker, Superstar, Blue Moon, and of course Total Eclipse of the Heart
Food – Moon pies, star fruit
Drink – Sun tea, Sunny D, Tequilla Sunrise (or make a sunrise out of another liquor) or try one of my Total Eclipse drinks:
- Total Eclipse Shandy: top a glass of lemonade with some Blue Moon beer.
- Moon over Sun Shandy: top a glass of lemonade with some Blue Moon beer.
- You Can’t Spell Total Eclipse without Lisa Cocktail / Total Eclipse Cocktail: In a glass, put a small can of Dole Pineapple Juice, add a shot of rum, sprinkle some coconut shavings on top, and then swirl some Hershey’s chocolate syrup on top. Will look like this: