On Monday, August 21, 2017, North America will experience its first total solar eclipse in nearly 100 years. The entire United States will be able to see the eclipse, and with a 70 mile wide path of totality, it will reach from Oregon to South Carolina. The best views, however, will be seen from the path, where the sun will be covered 100 percent.
What is a total solar eclipse? According to Space.com, "A total solar eclipse occurs when the disk of the moon appears to completely cover the disk of the sun in the sky." And the best way to see this rare event is in the path of totality. Places like New York will still be able to see the eclipse, but it will only be partial. The length of the event varies based on location, but the longest duration will be two minutes and 40 seconds. But remember, never look at a solar eclipse without special eye protection, as it can cause serious damage to the eye or even blindness.
If you’re not in the path of totality, there are still hotels available for booking, many with special offers for viewing the eclipse. Unfortunately, the path of totality will be over mostly smaller cities with few luxury options. And most of the higher end hotels have already been booked for months. There are however, more available rooms in affordable chain hotels and local motels. Many of these hotels have marked that they are totally booked online, but still have a few rooms available. Cities within view include Madras, Oregon, Idaho Falls, Idaho; Casper Wyoming; Lincoln, Nebraska; Jefferson City Missouri; Carbondale, Illinois; Paducah, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; Clayton, Georgia; and Columbia, South Carolina.
Good to know: with such a rare event, traffic is expected to be very heavy. Make sure if your clients are planning to travel to get a better view they leave earlier than usual to make time. Here are a few of the available packages:
One of the most comprehensive packages with options still available is the Music City Solar Eclipse Package in Nashville, the largest city in the eclipse's path of totality. The package includes a minimum of one-night stay at one of 99 participating hotels, Nashville solar eclipse gift bag with eclipse viewing glasses, a Music City picnic blanket, and a Nashville t-shirt voucher.
If clients are looking to see the eclipse from the water, Royal Caribbean is offering a Total Eclipse Cruise. The ship will position itself directly in the path to offer guests the best view. Additionally, the multi-platinum selling band DNCE will be performing onboard in the moments leading up to the eclipse. Guests can reserve seats for the concert by logging onto Royal Caribbean’s website and going to their reservation.
For those who want to experience the event from the sky, the Ultimate Solar Fest Solar Eclipse Air Tour is still available from Flycascades in Madras, Oregon. Three guests can fly 10,000 feet in a helicopter over Lake Billy Chinook and snowcapped Three Sisters Mountains. Also visible from the air will be Mt. Jefferson and Mt. St Helens. The tour ends with a look over SolarFest, a festival and camping celebration of the event.
For a slightly more luxurious experience, Flycascades is also offering the Champagne Eclipse Jets tour. The company chartered four private jets for this event. Roundtrip transfers are available from Bend, Redmond, Seattle, Portland, and Bay Area, after which the jet will bring travelers to 36,000 feet along the line of totality. While in the air during the eclipse, guests can enjoy Don Perignon Champagne and Bend’s own Bow Tie Catering gourmet basket. Guests are provided with protective eyewear.
If heights aren't your thing, there are also campgrounds at Solarfest in Madras. Still available are five-day RV and tent camping passes, the Glamping Bundle (which includes space for two to four people, cots, blankets, table and chairs) and the five people EZ Camping Bundle, which offers a pre-set tent.
Intrepid Travel is offering special road tours for the event. The Canadian Rockies tour begins in Vancouver and makes stops in Jasper National Park (the largest in Canada), Glacier National Park, and Jackson Hole for the eclipse. Guests will spend the day at a Jackson ranch and be provided with a catered BBQ lunch and viewing glasses. The 18-day trip leaves Wednesday, August 7 and returns Saturday August 26.
Also available from Intrepid is the 13-day San Francisco to Salt Lake tour, traveling from Friday, August 11 to Wednesday August 23. This tour makes stops in Yosemite National Park, Las Vegas, Yellowstone National Park, and West Yellowstone, where the tour will have an exclusive viewing site.
The Cherokee Mountain Resort in western North Carolina has a few cabins left and is also offering a special eclipse package. The package includes a welcome reception August 18 and ends with a brunch before departure August 22. The one and two bedroom luxury cabins are located near Nantahala Lake in proximity to whitewater rafting, zip lining, horseback riding, golfing, and fishing.
For those who want a more rustic experience, campsite reservations are available at DeBow Park in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Campsite locations are $30 per night with a three-night minimum. The site will be equipped with portable restrooms and showers as well as food vendors. The campsite is located near the Casey Jones Distillery, Pennyroyal Scuba Blue Springs Resort, and Woody Winfree Fire-Transportation Museum.
Those staying in the city will be able to view the longest total solar eclipse on the east coast and check out more than 50 festivals and events in the area. Highlights include the South Carolina State Museum viewing event with appearance by astronaut Charles Duke, The Grape Eclipse festival at Mercer Winery, and kids' activities at Saluda Shoals Park.