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How to Find the Perfect Spot to View the Eclipse

The eve of the great American solar eclipse is upon us! This year will be spectacular as the eclipse will travel coast to coast giving millions an opportunity to experience it. With thousands of miles in the zone for totality, where is the best place to go?

By: Michael Wigle + Save to a List

1. Don’t Go Far (if you don’t have to)

Millions of people will be getting in their cars this weekend and Monday to see the big show. If you live near the path of totality, you probably already have an awesome spot near you, so why go any further? The further you go the more problems you will encounter. Besides, if you know a place well, you will get the most out of it.

There will be crowds inundating places that are not suited to handling the rush, so do yourself a huge favor and take the stress factor out of the trip. Don’t go far if you don’t have to.

2.  Keep It Simple

If you are reading this, you are probably as big of a fan as I am of traveling and exploring new places. Seeing the eclipse can be an awesome excuse to check out a new corner of the country that you have not seen yet. You might be trying to get in some new photography or trying out new equipment to get you to your rad spot.

From experience, the more variables you add to your trip, the more that can go wrong and add stress. Something will go wrong, that’s just the nature of traveling. The main attraction of the eclipse lasts less than three minutes. The more simple you keep your plans the more likely you are to be prepared to make adjustments so as to not miss that brief moment.

3. Call Ahead

We can do nearly everything through our smartphones if we have a cell signal or wifi connection. There are thousands of awesome resources out there on where to go and how to get there. The Outbound is filled with incredible adventures spanning some of the craziest scenery on the planet. Access to many of these places may be limited the week or day of the eclipse. Imagine a thousand people trampling pristine alpine meadows or clogging narrow logging trails to get away from the main roads. Many organizations like the National Forestry Service are closing or limiting routes.

Don’t get there the day of to find out that your perfect plans are closed like the scene from National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. Find some local numbers to where you are going and find out what is closed and what is open. You might be surprised as to how much you learn.

4. Be Flexible

Many of you have poured over maps looking for the perfect place that no one has thought of. I have news for you; according to search data every place has been researched. If there is a trail or landmark there will be people. Going into the wilderness can provide an experienced backpacker a few less people than the thousands expected to park along roads, but it can also limit the view if the weather shifts. If going into the wild remember that clouds, afternoon thunderstorms, and haze from forest fires do not care if your view is obstructed. This can still be a problem in congested cities that lie along the path and the main roads and highways that connect them.

The eclipse will be happening up in the sky which means for many the best way to view will just be under it someplace. The best way to guarantee a view is to create a plan that includes planning for multiple locations nearby and to be mobile hours before the eclipse. If you are monitoring the weather, air conditions, and traffic, you can move if the sky decides not to cooperate.

5. Enjoy It

While many people will be pent up from the travel, frustrated that things are not perfect, or focused on getting their camera to work, enjoy the show. This is a rare event that will be shared around the world by millions and presents an incredible opportunity for us to set aside all our problems and frustrations to do something together. You can even choose to find a place to view 95% of the show outside the path of totality if it means a better photo composition with some peace and quiet.

The choice to enjoy one of the rarest celestial events in the universe is completely up to you. Make sure your plans to watch include people you care about or new friends you just met. Go early and stay late to watch the milky way rise in a moonless night. Grab some great food and a cold beverage. Lay back on the ground with your futuristic cardboard and solar mylar glasses on. Even if the weather decides not to cooperate, find other ways to enjoy the moment. The only perfect spot to watching the eclipse is the one you end up in.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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