Katherine Tandy Brown
Published March 27, 2017
Only one in 10,000 people ever sees a full solar eclipse, when the moon lines up between the Earth and the sun in a perfect billiards shot. Those stats could change come August 21, when the Great American Eclipse carves a 100-mile-wide diagonal path of totality across the United States from Oregon on the Pacific to South Carolina on the Atlantic. Eleven states fall into that zone. Here’s how a few are enticing viewers.
In Idaho’s Snake River Valley, Twin Falls has teamed up with Mother Nature for a Southern Idaho Eclipse Adventure, complete with an astronomer-led eclipse experience with catered lunch in the great outdoors.
While there, nature lovers will want to explore the area’s wonders: Shoshone Falls, dubbed the Niagara Falls of the West; the Sawtooth National Forest, with 40-plus peaks over 10,000 feet; the Snake River for rafting and kayaking and its trails for hiking and biking; Zip the Snake! Zipline; and gorgeous views from the 486-foot-high Perrine Bridge.
Prime rib and Idaho trout dinners at Elevation 486 restaurant are a must.
Blessed with lots of wide sky for Milky Way viewing at night, the Sandhills Country of western Nebraska is a prime spot for solar eclipsing. The birthplace of rodeo, the North Platte area will stage an eclipse-weekend rodeo, and at Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park, visitors can tour Buffalo Bill’s history-rich home and saddle up for a trail ride. Rail fans get a bird’s-eye view at the Golden Spike Tower, which overlooks the world’s largest railroad classification yard, and can climb into locomotives at the Cody Park Railroad Museum.
After perusing Grain Bin Antique Town, 15 historic grain bins filled with antiques, shoppers can chill at Feather River Vineyards and Winery, the state’s largest.
A mere 16 miles from the longest totality viewing in the world (two minutes, 41-plus seconds), the western Kentucky town of Hopkinsville is ready for expected throngs of scientists, eclipse chasers and curiosity seekers with festivities such as the three-day downtown Little River Festival and its annual Little Green Men Festival at nearby Kelly, where a 1955 extraterrestrial sighting made national headlines.
Bourbon aficionados can meet distillers, sip libations and watch the sun disappear at MB Roland Distillery’s weekend Kentucky Bourbon Mashoree.
Covering 170,000 acres in western Kentucky and Tennessee, the Land Between the Lakes National Recreational Area will offer evening planetarium shows and marvelous outdoor viewing.
Offering the longest viewing time on the East Coast, Columbia, South Carolina, celebrates Total Eclipse Weekend with events at attractions, museums, hotels and restaurants.
Located two blocks from the South Carolina State House and two to three from four major hotels, Motor Supply Co. Bistro welcomes sun spotters at a prix-fixe lunch with open bar at noon on August 21. Named “best restaurant” in three 2016 city readers’ polls, the eatery invites its guests to reserve a table inside and watch the world turn twilight from the parking lot.
Also in the Congaree Vista district, the South Carolina State Museum offers an Eclipse Weekend Pass with telescope gallery tours, shows in its state-of-the-art planetarium, a Saturday night Soiree and a Monday Totality Party.