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Planning for the Eclipse
The Great American Total Solar Eclipse will race across the U.S. on Aug. 21, 2017, casting a shadow over 21 of the country's national parks coast to coast.
It's been nearly 100 years since a total solar eclipse has traveled the width of the U.S. and has been visible from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. During the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, the disk of the moon will move directly in front of the sun and will cast a shadow across the country.
The path of totality for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse is about 70 miles (113 kilometers) wide and stretches from Oregon to South Carolina, encompassing 21 U.S. national parks or historical monuments and scenic trails. [Total Solar Eclipse 2017: When, Where and How to See It (Safely)]
Special viewing glasses are required in order to safely view the solar eclipse. Some of the national parks hosting viewing events will be giving out glasses to visitors on the day of the eclipse. However, quantities will be limited, so anyone planning to view the eclipse should get a pair of solar viewing glasses prior to the event.
Witnessing the Great American Total Solar Eclipse from one of the country's national parks offers a unique and natural viewing experience, but many of the parks in the path of totality are situated in remote locations. Therefore, visitors should come prepared with enough food and water to stay hydrated in the summer heat. Visitors should also note that cell service and internet access may be limited in these areas.
Many of the national parks in the path of totality will host special viewing events or other related programs and activities. If you're planning on making a trip to see the total solar eclipse, here's a list of all of the national parks that will experience the daytime darkness cast by the moon's shadow.
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, OregonSlide 2 of 45
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
The National Park Service (NPS) expects "very large crowds" to flood the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, as "Eastern Oregon is predicted to be one of the best total eclipse viewing areas in the country," according to the NPS website.
Located within the John Day River basin, the national monument is known for its abundance of well-preserved layers of plant and animal fossils, ranging from the late Eocene, about 45 million years ago, to the late Miocene, about 5 million years ago. The park consists of 13,944 acres (5,643 hectares) of semidesert shrublands and colorful badlands.
All three units of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument will plunge into darkness for up to 2 minutes. Both the Painted Hills Unit and the Sheep Rock Unit are directly under the centerline of the eclipse. The Clarno Unit, however, is north of centerline but still within the range of totality. [Total Solar Eclipse 2017: Path, Viewing Maps and Photo Guide]
Partial phases of the eclipse will begin shortly after 9 a.m. local time, with totality starting at approximately 10:20 a.m., depending on which unit you're in. The total solar eclipse will last for about 1 minute and 40 seconds at the Clarno Unit and just over 2 minutes at the Sheep Rock and Painted Hills units.
The park is open to the public on the day of the eclipse. There are no entrance or parking fees, but the park anticipates large crowds and advises visitors to arrive early to ensure they catch the eclipse. Designated parking areas will be set up, but because of the unusually heavy traffic and visitation, programs and park services will be limited on the day of the eclipse. The park also warns that areas that are normally open may be closed or open to foot traffic only.Slide 3 of 45
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, IdahoSlide 4 of 45
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idaho
Located in the Snake River Plain of central Idaho, the lava fields of the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve fall on the outskirts of the path of totality. The park is partnering with the city of Arco, NASA and Idaho State University to provide a special viewing event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. local time at the Bottolfsen Park in Arco.
On the day of the eclipse starting at 9:30 a.m. local time, there will be an educational presentation featuring details about the event and how to view it safely. A partial eclipse begins at 10:13 a.m. MDT, and the eclipse will reach totality at approximately 11:31 a.m. in this location. Skywatchers will experience about 1 minute and 39 seconds of darkness. Afterward, a partial eclipse will continue until approximately 12:30 p.m. MDT.
Following the eclipse, there will be a Space Science Exhibition, a presentation about ongoing research at Craters of the Moon and the chance for kids to earn their Lunar Ranger patch.
There will also be several special events at Craters of the Moon leading up to the total solar eclipse, including "star parties" on Aug. 18 and 19; a presentation called Eclipses, Transits and the Search For Life on Aug. 19; and another special eclipse presentation called "In the Shadow of the Moon," by NASA scientist and educator Brian Day, on Aug. 20. All eclipse events at Bottolfsen Park and Craters of the Moon are free to the public. You can find more event information here.Slide 5 of 45
Grand Teton National Park, WyomingSlide 6 of 45
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
NPS officials are already preparing for what they expect to be the "busiest day ever" at Grand Teton National Park in northwestern Wyoming.
The park encompasses the 40-mile-long (64 kilometers) Teton Range — part of the Rocky Mountains — as well as most of the northern sections of the valley known as Jackson Hole. In this park, located in the middle of the eclipse path, viewers will experience up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds of darkness, depending on where they are in the park. Partial phases of the total solar eclipse will begin at 10:17 a.m. local time over Jackson Hole and reach totality at approximately 11:35 a.m.
Four viewing areas will be set up in the park: Gros Ventre Campground, Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, Jackson Lake Lodge and Colter Bay Visitor Center. On the day of the eclipse, the 8-mile (13 km) access road to the Gros Ventre Campground will be turned into a one-way road, running west to east, to create enough room for skywatchers to park and view the centerline of the eclipse.
The Gros Ventre viewing event, located in the southern part of the park, may require a ticket, because parking space along the road is limited. The park will release more details as the day of the eclipse gets closer. All other viewing areas will be free and open to the public. However, certain areas of the park — especially pullouts along the roads — may close when full.
All of the park's permitting requirements will be in place throughout the weekend of the eclipse, including backcountry permits, camping permits and boating permits. The park warns that area lodging is already booked and that all park campgrounds operate on a first-come, first-served basis and will likely fill up quickly.
If you plan to stick around at the park after the eclipse, there will be a free program for visitors to learn more about an aspect of astronomy. The event, To the Tetons and Beyond, will take place at the Laurance S. Rockefeller (LSR) Preserve Porch from 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. local time. Leading up to the day of the eclipse, the park will also host educational programs, stargazing events and other astronomy activities, beginning the night of Aug. 18.Slide 7 of 45
Fort Laramie National Historic Site, WyomingSlide 8 of 45