A major solar eclipse will be visible across the United States August 21, and “boom towns” in the path of the event are seeing travel numbers spike in preparation.
Cheapflights.com has compiled a study of destinations seeing the biggest spike in flight searches ahead of the eclipse, as well as other travel adventures available in each of those locations. The destinations are situated in the prime viewing area for the eclipse, an arc that starts in Oregon and ends in South Carolina. Here are the top five:
Casper, Wyoming (1,064% increase) - This central Wyoming city is an ideal destination to see the eclipse, thanks to a high probability of clear skies and an altitude of more than 5,000 feet. But the historic celestial event isn't the only reason to plan a trip to Casper. With its picturesque mountain scenery, fresh air, multitude of trails for hiking and biking and the North Platte River that flows right through the downtown area, Casper is the perfect getaway for anyone who likes to spend time outdoors.
Getting in: Casper/Natrona County International Airport
Redmond, Oregon (271% increase) - Located in the heart of central Oregon, the high-desert town of Redmond gets 300 days of sunshine a year, nicely balanced by cool desert evenings. The August 21 eclipse will be a huge draw for potential visitors, but there's a lot more to see and do in Redmond than just look (indirectly) at disappearing sun. A mecca for mountain bikers and climbers, Redmond also boasts a growing craft beer scene, hiking trails, the chance to get out on the water in a kayak or stand-up paddleboard, great antique shopping and numerous spots to sit back and relax at a quaint café or bar.
Getting in: Redmond Municipal Airport
Columbia, South Carolina (245% increase) - Set amidst some seriously stunning natural beauty, South Carolina's capital offers visitors plenty to do. There are great options if you like spending time in the great outdoors, but Columbia also has its fair share of big city charm with a host of dining, shopping and entertainment options. Whether you're on the eclipse trail, or just curious about what this southern city has to offer, you won't be bored.
Getting in: Columbia Metropolitan Airport
Cheyenne, Wyoming (183% increase) - Wyoming's capital city, considered America's rodeo and railroad capital, is a great place to base yourself for a few days, either for some eclipse viewing or simply to check out a historic corner of the country. Make sure to take advantage of everything Cheyenne has to offer, including museums that highlight the area's history, farmers' markets, campgrounds, parks, hiking and biking trails, breweries and the chance to stock up on Western-themed fashion and décor.
Getting in: Cheyenne Regional Airport
Boise, Idaho (153% increase) - Whether you're planning to visit Boise to catch the August eclipse, or you're just on the hunt for a diverse travel destination, Idaho's capital offers a little something for everyone. The largest city in Idaho is a lot more cosmopolitan than you might think, with a lively downtown area, an abundance of restaurants, breweries and wine bars, a vibrant nightlife scene and enough outdoor activities to keep you busy.
Getting in: Boise Airport
"One of the best things about this eclipse is that it's shining the spotlight on many destinations that are wonderful slices of America," said Amanda Festa, editor at Cheapflights.com. "The small towns and cities that top our list are seeing big percentage spikes for the solar show in part because they're not the biggest of destinations. But, with or without the eclipse excitement, there's plenty to keep you entertained in each of them."