The last solar eclipse whose path of totality stretched across the continental U.S. was in 1923. That’s almost 100 years ago, so it’s no wonder everyone is losing their minds over the upcoming eclipse on August 21st. Towns in the path of totality are stocking up on basic supplies like they’re preparing for the end of the world. Here at TGR, our hometown is about to be flooded with up to 100,000 extra tourists: every single hotel room is booked, our traffic is gridlocked, and our airport is basically going to shut down. This valley has never had to handle such a ridiculous influx of people, so if you thought Grand Teton/Yellowstone would be a nice, scenic spot to watch this thing, you’re going to need to think again.
Instead, here are five places that you could still realistically pick up and go to if you want to see the eclipse.
1. Jefferson County, Oregon
Oregon will be the first state to see the eclipse, with totality occurring around 10:21 a.m. Jefferson County happens to be right in the middle of the path, and it has lots of tiny towns you could go to. The one we would stay away from is Madras, which legitimately has a separate section on its Wikipedia page stating that all hotel rooms have been booked for two years and that they, like Jackson, are expecting about 100,000 visitors. Keep in mind that this town only has 6,000 residents to being with. Instead, take your travels to Culver or John Day. Both have relatively dry inland climates, neither have a population that breaks 2,000, and both have mountains around them that you can climb for prime viewing.
The eclipse passes straight through this state, leaving you with plenty of options. Most of the towns that will experience totality seem pretty sleepy, but Mitchell, Nebraska, appears to be among the few with a sightseeing attraction in proximity (Scott's Bluff National Monument), so we’d pick that one for your eclipse destination. At least you can go check it out during your downtime.
3. Fayette, Missouri
Fayette seems like an alright place to be. There are just around 3,000 residents, so it’s still tiny, but it’s slightly less rural than some of the other places we’ve suggested. It’s only two hours from St. Louis, and it’s got a real four-year college right in the middle of it. It’s also close to the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, where you can kayak, fish, canoe, whatever - plus, it would be pretty cool to watch the eclipse from a boat.
4. Cobden, Illinois
Only the very bottom of Illinois eeks into the path of totality, leaving just a handful of towns in the running for this state. We nominate Cobden for your eclipse destination for two reasons: 1) it’s got some
mountains hills, which is pretty rare for Illinois. Almost every eclipse expert has said that you should go “high and dry” for your viewing, so the geography of this town makes it ideal, as far as the midwest goes. 2) It has seven vineyards. Go figure.
5. Lakewood, South Carolina
Lakewood is a seriously small southern town that happens to be in one of the last places that the eclipse will pass through on its way out. However, it turns out that there are a ton of places to camp in and around Lakewood, including the huge Manchester state forest and Lake Marion. It’s also just far enough from Charleston/Myrtle Beach that you won’t have to worry too much about the obscene traffic that those places are sure to experience.
**Bonus Destination** Jackson! But only if you live here
If you’re lucky enough to live in Teton County, just stay at home. It’s not worth idling on 22 between a van with Texas plates and a shiny Range Rover for hours on end. The night before the event, stick some sloshies in the freezer, call your friends, make sure you have food in your house so you won’t have to witness what I’m pretty sure will be the Albie’s apocalypse, and then watch the eclipse from your yard or roof together. That way you can effectively tune out the invasion and still get to enjoy how awesome your hometown is. But never forget, Jackson actually sucks. Tell your friends.
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