Three Things You Should Consider Regarding the August Solar Eclipse

April 20, 2017 - Saara Snow, Adventure Cycling's Travel Initiatives Coordinator, writes for Geopoints Bulletin this month.

Photo of total solar eclipse.

Total solar eclipses — when the moon casts a shadow on the Earth — occur once every 18 months on average. For any given point, however, this calculates out to once in about 400 years. And it was about a century ago, in 1918, when the last total solar eclipse swept across the U.S. from the Pacific to the Atlantic, though some will remember the total eclipse of 1979 that crossed the Pacific Northwest.

The next total solar eclipse will be on August 21, 2017, running straight through the heart of the country from Oregon to South Carolina, and people are getting ready.

For those of us who love bike touring, as well as mountains and wilderness, the eclipse path is kind of ideal. The total eclipse can only be seen in a narrow band where the moon completely blocks out the sun, bringing darkness to the day. This band, aptly named “the path of totality,” fun to say in a foreboding voice, intersects eight Adventure Cycling routes, including the TransAmerica Trail, as well as the Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route, Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, Lewis & Clark Trail, Bicycle Route 66, Great Rivers South, Underground Railroad, and Atlantic Coast routes.

Check out this interactive map for the full view of the path of totality. And below is that path overlaid with the Adventure Cycling Route Network.

Map Graphic by Routes & Mapping

Here are just a few of the highlights of where the path of totality and our routes will coincide:

  • Oregon – Salem, Corvallis, Lincoln City, Mitchell, John Day, Baker City
  • Idaho – Stanley, Sawtooth Wilderness, Boulder White Clouds Wilderness, Sun Valley, Crouch/Garden Valley, Idaho City
  • Wyoming – Grand Teton National Park, Gros Ventre Wilderness, Jackson, Crowheart, Lander
  • Nebraska – Falls City
  • Kansas – Troy, White Cloud, part of Kansas City
  • Missouri - Jefferson City, part of St. Louis, Farmington
  • Illinois – Carbondale, Shawnee National Forest
  • Kentucky – Marion, Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area,
  • Tennessee – Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area
  • South Carolina – Charleston, Francis Marion National Forest, Jamestown, Andrews
Photo from Baker County Tourism.
Baker County Oregon on the TransAmerica Trail will be an ideal place to view the total solar eclipse.

If you’re planning to be on the road on August 21, and will be anywhere along the path of totality, it could make for a magical experience or an extremely frustrating one, depending on how prepared you are. So here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Accommodations will be difficult to find. If you haven’t already booked a hotel, AirBnB or campsite yet, you may be out of luck and we’ve heard prices have soared due to demand. You could try to nab a first-come, first-serve campsite, but you’ll probably want to make sure the campground has a no-turn-away policy in case it’s full. Unfortunately, all of the 1,000 extra campsites Oregon Parks and Recreation Department opened up April 19 are already booked. The Warm Showers hospitality exchange could be a good bet, but keep in mind these hosts will likely be getting many requests and are probably booking up quickly too. The sooner you can secure something, the better. Keep in mind you may have to go off of your planned route to find a place to stay.
  2. There will be a lot more automobile and RV traffic. Thousands of people will be flocking to the eclipse path, and likely most by car. It may be a good idea to schedule a rest day on August 20 and 21.
  3. Consider a detour. If you’re not that interested in the eclipse or trying to navigate the challenges associated with the influx of tourists, you could opt to plan for a detour outside of the eclipse path. Some resources for alternative routes are available from individual states at the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.

Regardless of where you are when this astronomical event occurs, it is bound to be one to remember, so sit back, enjoy the company of those around you and ride on into the light.

Photo 1 from Pixabay | Photo 3 from Baker County Tourism on Flickr.


GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer ‘Jenn’ Hamelman, Routes & Mapping Assistant Director, and appears once a month, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.


RS May 6, 2017, 2:45 PM

Residing near the 'path' in rural Oregon, the last thing I'd want to do is be trying to ride on the highways with the tourists. Might try Forest Service roads and camp way off the beaten path to get away of the insanity that will inevitably trash our state parks in Central and Eastern Oregon.

Saara Snow April 26, 2017, 1:21 PM

Also, check out this blog post about opportunities for eclipse viewing in Oregon by Bike Portland:

Brink April 24, 2017, 8:48 AM

Thank you, National Eclipse. We will be happy to share this information. April 20, 2017, 7:48 PM

As the date of the August 21 eclipse draws near, keep this important safety information in mind: You MUST use special eclipse safety glasses to view a partial eclipse and the partial phases of a total eclipse. To do otherwise is risking permanent eye damage and even blindness. The ONLY time it's safe to look at a TOTAL eclipse without proper eye protection is during the very brief period of totality when the Sun is 100 percent blocked by the Moon. If you're in a location where the eclipse won't be total, there is NEVER a time when it's safe to look with unprotected eyes. NEVER attempt to view an eclipse with an optical device (camera, binoculars, telescope) that doesn't have a specially designed solar filter that fits snugly on the front end (the Sun side) of the device. Additionally, never attempt to view an eclipse with an optical device while wearing eclipse glasses; the focused light will destroy the glasses and enter and damage your eyes.

Dave Connelly April 20, 2017, 12:57 PM

We're already planning a trip to SC to see 2 rail-trails (Swamp Rabbit and Doodle) plus 1 eclipse. Paths to the future.

Mark April 21, 2017, 7:06 AM

You should take a look at the Palmetto Trail. Hundreds of miles (broken down into shorter passages) and it follows the path of the totality almost exactly. That's where I'm riding!

Louis Bravos April 20, 2017, 7:57 AM

Detour? Great thing about a bike is being able to keep going no matter how congested the cars get. Better to be in the total eclipse zone full of cars than near but not in it with speeding cars. Don't think that a 95% partial eclipse is 95% as awesome as a total: IT'S NOT. The sun is so bright that just 1 or 2 % of it gives near normal daylight. All travelers interested in awesomeness should get into the total eclipse zone.

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