Advice for Last-Minute Eclipse Chasers
July 25th, 2017 by Curtis Condon

Eye protection is essential. Sunglasses are not made to look directly into the sun during an eclipse or at any other time. Only use glasses made specifically for eclipse watching or a welder lens with a shade rating of at least 18.
Photo by Leo Patrizi

Nine tips and strategies for viewing this month’s total solar eclipse, even if you haven’t made any plans or reservations yet

It’s happening. That voice in the back of your head is telling you, “Go.”

Until now, you gave little thought to watching the solar eclipse. However, with all of the recent media coverage, you can’t help but wonder what you might be missing.

If you’re thinking about indulging that little voice, here are several tips and strategies that might make last-minute planning less stressful and the outcome more enjoyable:

• Don’t try to make it a day trip. There is no guarantee you can drive there and back the same day. Add extra time to both ends of the trip to minimize stress and ensure you see the the show.

• Leave early and stay late. Planners in Oregon and Idaho expect major traffic congestions the day of the event. Avoid most of it by arriving a few days early and staying a day or two after the eclipse.

• Call direct. At this late date—if you haven’t made reservations already—the key to finding a place to stay is to call lodging providers directly. That goes for area chambers of commerce. They may know of new lodging options available just for the eclipse.

• Go remote. Another strategy is to find a place off the beaten path where you can set up camp and await the eclipse. Oregon and Idaho have lots of public lands where camping is allowed. Check for closures and restrictions before going. Also, keep in mind it is fire season, and open fires are prohibited.

• Stay informed. Watch news and weather reports in the days leading up to the eclipse. That way you may be able to avoid cloudy skies, wildfires and even major traffic problems.

• Take plenty of everything. That includes food, water, sunscreen, medical supplies, toilet paper and other essentials. And don’t forget eye protection.

• Expect phone trouble. Phone and internet access may be spotty or nonexistent in remote areas. Even in areas with plenty of cell coverage, there could be problems due to the mass of people trying to access it at the same time.

• Prepare to be off-grid. If you rely on your phone for navigation, ensure it is satellite capable—that its GPS works off satellites instead of a cell signal—and download area maps to your phone. Download other critical information in advance as well.

• Keep things in perspective. Events of this magnitude always have epic traffic jams, crowds and drive times. Knowing that in advance will help you prepare—materially and psychologically—so you can have the right mindset to enjoy this rare and awesome event.