The West Coast Guide to the Solar Eclipse

You may have heard that August 21, 2017 a total solar eclipse will be visible across 14 U.S. states for an astronomical event that is being called “The Great American Eclipse.”

What’s so special about a total solar eclipse? Well, simply put, it’s when the moon (at it’s closest proximity to us) passes in front of the sun and aligns perfectly to cast a shadow on parts of our home planet, Earth; the flares of the sun’s corona being the only part of the star that remain visible. In other words, a total solar eclipse is a coincidence of cosmic proportions.

Grant Butler | The Oregonian/OregonLive
Grant Butler | The Oregonian/OregonLive

If you’re a Californian like me, your closest viewing destinations in the path of totality are located in Oregon. The cities of Ontario, John Day, Madras, Albany, Salem, Corvallis and Newport have been reported by countless sources as the most ideal places to view the phenomena. It’s important to keep in mind though that this is the first time a total solar eclipse will be visible in the continental U.S. since 1979, and the event has been highly anticipated by everyone from researchers at NASA to amateur astronomy enthusiasts and everyone in between. People from all over the world began booking their lodging for the eclipse as far as a year out and we are now less than a month away, so if you begin your search now don’t be surprised by the lack of vacancies. Rather than tell you where you can’t stay in Oregon, we’ve compiled a list of options that still exist!

Public Lands

Unlike most privately owned campsites that sold out of spaces months ago, public lands are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Visitors to the public lands during the 2017 solar eclipse are advised to visit the Bureau of Land Management eclipse resource page to assure that everyone enjoys their public lands safely. This website is also where you can find maps that point you in the direction of public land in Western, Central and Eastern Oregon.

Bureau of Land Management

Drop-In Campsites

Michael Brandt Photography
Michael Brandt Photography
Joshua Stocker

Oregon State Parks control more than 50 campgrounds across the state, and 22 are available without a reservation. Keep in mind that most of these campsites are located in remote areas where there are no amenities like bathrooms or running water. Campers flocking to undeveloped public land are encouraged to come prepared with enough water and food supplies as well with proper protections from the August heat.

Festivals

There are a few festivals in the path of totality with tickets and space still available for campers and day revelers alike.

USDA Forest Service

This small town outside of Corvallis is hosting a “party in the path” that will feature a concert on the evening of Saturday, August 19th, train excursions in the Santiam corridor, food vendors on site and other local activities.

Symbiosis Eclipse Big Prairie Summit, Crook County, OR

Festival organizers from all corners of the world have come together to organize this remarkable gathering of Eclipse chasers. This festival truly has it all from tent camping in the open prairie to glamping in shift pods and private yurts. Symbiosis also boasts a stacked lineup that has electronic and world music enthusiasts reeling.

Symbiosis Gathering describes this the eclipse viewing experience beautifully on their website:

“Most people in attendance will travel a great distance and make a great commitment to share in this experience. These are the people who we wish to commune with. Dedicated, authentic seekers of awe and truth and beauty. This experience will see a coming together of peoples that will happen one time only in alignment with one of the most spectacular phenomena one can ever witness.”

Judy L. Neill Photography

Moonshadow Festival Prineville, OR

Noted as “Arguably the most Oregon-y solar eclipse event out there,” by Willamette Week. This festival hosted by Wine Down Ranch will feature live music, authentic cowboy storytelling, farm tours, a guided poker hike, morning yoga and markets featuring artisans and local farmers.

Airbnb’s & Couchsurfing

Airbnb is a great option for those not inclined to camping, but this luxury definitely comes at a price. For instance, in the city of Madras, Oregon (of which is being called the absolute best city to view the eclipse in totality) rentals average around $1,200 per night.

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers in need of shelter with generous individuals and families who open their homes free of charge. Yes, free of charge. Download the app and explore the options available from August 18th- 21st.

If you can’t make it to the Beaver State for the eclipse all is not lost. From virtually anywhere in California residents will be able to view a partial solar eclipse at an estimated 62-76%. Viewing parties are being held in San Francisco as well as at the public library and Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

Happy eclipse chasing!

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