On Monday, August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will darken a narrow path across the continental U.S., from Oregon to South Carolina. The eclipse’s path of totality, where the sun will be entirely obscured by the moon, is set to pass over 14 states (technically it includes a sliver of uninhabited Montana wilderness, and a teeny corner of Iowa).
During the event, the midday skies will turn to night anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on where in the path it is viewed from. For many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience a total solar eclipse, and just two months out, finding a good spot to view the celestial wonder is already becoming a challenge.
With anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of people expected to swarm prime spots along the path of totality, space in hotels is pretty much booked in most areas, with some locations even reporting reservations being cancelled and available rooms going for as much as a $1,000 a night. But since much of the eclipse’s 70-mile-wide path crosses over rural portions of the country, many cities and towns are offering space for camping as part of their eclipse celebrations, which may be your best bet at this point.
Every state within the path of totality is celebrating with festivals, fairs, and multi-day events. For those of you who still need to make plans, we’ve put together a guide to the best options still available in each state.
Oregon—Totality begins 10:18 a.m. PDT
Best Bet: Atlas Obscura’s Total Eclipse Festival
Hey, it’s us! Our multi-day eclipse extravaganza, presented with our partners at Elysian Brewing, will take place on a secluded farm in Eastern Oregon, where you can camp amid gorgeous northwest wilderness. Special guests include speakers such as Scientific American’s Clara Moskowitz and our very own co-founder, Joshua Foer; live performances by Psychic Ills and Sun Ra Arkestra; an interactive activity station presented by Science Friday; and night sky photography workshops presented by National Parks at Night. We’ll also have a night sky/solar viewing and photography station with high-end equipment for attendee use provided by B&H Photo Video.
Tickets are still available for camping-based accommodations during the event. Don’t miss one of the best eclipse celebrations in the entire country (if we do say so ourselves…).
Idaho—Totality begins 11:27 a.m. MDT
Best Bet: Eastern Idaho Eclipse Festival
NASA has chosen Idaho Falls as one of its official viewing sites, and the city is celebrating accordingly as part of the larger Eastern Idaho Eclipse Festival. On the Saturday before the eclipse, there will be a concert featuring country stars the Brothers Osborne, as well as a rubber duck race down the Snake River.
The hotels and motels in the area are mostly all booked, but to accommodate the massive crowds expected, the city of Idaho Falls has created a couple of “eclipse villages,” where people can reserve a spot for camping or RV parking. To reserve a spot and see what’s still available, check the Idaho Falls website here.
Wyoming—Totality begins 11:36 a.m. MDT
Best Bet: Wyoming Eclipse Festival
The city of Casper is going all out, with events scheduled from August 16 through August 21. Over the days leading up to the eclipse there will be street fairs, astronomy talks, museum tours, fun runs, and even a murder mystery walk based on the history of Casper during Prohibition. On Monday, the city is also offering a number of public and private options for places to view the eclipse.
Casper is expecting around 35,000 guests, so most if not all of the hotels in the city are booked, but a representative for the event suggests that people check Craigslist and other such sites as lodging options are appearing there sporadically. There are also a number of options for camping, details for which can be found on the festival’s official website.
Nebraska—Totality begins 11:51 a.m. MDT
Best Best: Carhenge
Located just north of the city of Alliance, Carhenge—that odd homage to Stonehenge—is inviting spectators to come and view the eclipse from their automotive druid’s circle. In the days leading up to August 21, there will be multiple events in the city of Alliance and the surrounding area, including planetarium shows, music, motocross races, and educational seminars. For the main event, viewing space at Carhenge itself will be first-come first-serve, but they say that many of the neighboring fields surrounding the installation will be opened up for viewing as well.
With as many as 10,000 extra visitors expected to arrive for the event, the scant lodging options in the area have been booked for months, but there are still spots open for dry camping. For more information on parking and camping, see Carhenge’s official eclipse page.
Kansas—Totality begins 1:00 p.m. CDT
Best Bet: Kansas City, Kansas
Kansas City, Kansas, will be celebrating the eclipse’s passing with viewing parties and a golf tournament. The city is located on the edge of the path of totality, so it will only receive a few seconds of complete coverage, but it is a great base of operations to visit one of the smaller Kansas communities that sits closer to the center of the path, including Atchison and Hiawatha.
Unlike most locations in the eclipse’s path, Kansas City, Kansas, still has hotel rooms and lodging available to reserve, although they too are expected to sell out soon. To find a place to stay in Kansas City, check their listings here.
Missouri—Totality begins 1:06 p.m. CDT
Best Bet: Capital Eclipse Celebration
Jefferson City is putting on a number of events during the weekend leading up to the eclipse, including such options as “Brunch with an Astronaut,” a corn maze, and a free concert by a Pink Floyd cover band. The festivities will also include a vendor village and a live NASA broadcast.
Some 50,000 visitors are expected to descend on the city for the eclipse, and hotel rooms are long since reserved, but there is still space to reserve camping spots in the surrounding areas. To find a place to lay your tent, check the Jefferson City official site.
Illinois—Totality begins 1:15 p.m. CDT
Best Bet: Moonstock 2017
Birds are said to stop singing during a total solar eclipse, but if you don’t care about all that, the city of Carterville, Illinois, has the event for you. Moonstock 2017 is surely the loudest music festival to take advantage of the eclipse. Running August 18-21, the heavy metal line-up includes bands such as Papa Roach, Saliva, and Five Finger Death Punch. The concert series culminates in a performance by none other than Ozzy Osbourne, who will begin his set at the dawning of the eclipse by playing “Bark at the Moon.” Perfect.
There are still Moonstock 2017 tickets available, including spots for camping on-site. If the rest of the country’s eclipse festivities seem a little soft, this might be the celebration for you. Check the official website for tickets and reservations.
Kentucky—Totality begins 1:21 p.m. CDT
Best Bet: Hopkinsville
If you’re going to be in Kentucky during the eclipse, you’ll want to head to the city of Hopkinsville, which is calling itself the “point of greatest eclipse” or “Eclipseville.” During the eclipse weekend, the city is offering a full line-up of happenings including a sci-fi convention (Eclipse Con), a lecture on science and faith from one of the Vatican’s chief science observers, and a local distillery that’s offering moonshine brewed from corn that has been to space and back.
The little city is expecting up to 100,000 visitors, essentially doubling their normal population. Remarkably, they say that there are still a few hotel rooms available, but they must be booked directly through the specific hotels. There are also a number of camping options still available on their website.
Tennessee—Totality begins 1:24 p.m. CDT
Best Bet: Spring City Eclipse Festival
Located exactly beneath the center of the path of totality, Spring City is expecting at least 4,000 people to come in for the big event. A relatively low-key affair with respect to some of the nation’s larger gatherings, Spring City will offer events and activities at their local parks the weekend prior to the eclipse, and viewing parties will be held on the day of the event.
The hotels in town have long since been sold out, but officials say there is still room at nearby resorts and marina properties, which must be booked directly through each establishment. Space for camping and RV parking is also still be available in the area. For more details, call City Hall at 423-365-6441.
Georgia—Totality begins 2:36 p.m. EDT
Best Bet: Get Off the Grid Festival
The organizers of this three-day festival in Blairsville, Georgia, are marrying their love of the environment to their love of the eclipse. Focusing on themes of sustainable energy, health, and agriculture, there will be live music, belly-dancing lessons, and lectures by special guests including “green cowboy” David Freeman.
There are still a number of RV and tent camping spots available near the festival grounds; options can be found on the festival website.
North Carolina—Totality begins 2:36 p.m. EDT
Best Bet: Downtown Sylva Eclipse Festival
North Carolina will only see totality cross a small tip of the western part of the state, but there are still festivities to be had if you find yourself in the area. We like the looks of the Downtown Sylva Eclipse Festival. Among the attractions taking place between August 18-21 are a number of concerts, a “Midnight Madness” shopping event where some local businesses stay open late and offer special deals, and astronomy seminars at the local community college.
Check the Jackson County lodging page to find out what’s still available in the area, which may include camping, cabins, and even a few hotels.
South Carolina—Totality begins 2:36 p.m. EDT
Best Bet: Total Eclipse Weekend
Columbia, South Carolina, is in a prime spot for totality, so unsurprisingly, the city is going all out. During their special eclipse weekend, there will be multiple concerts, museum tours, historic walks, and a tailgate party at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds on the day of the eclipse.
According to a festival representative, there is still some hotel availability and lots of space in camping and RV grounds in the surrounding area, including around Lake Murray, which they say will offer a more peaceful eclipse viewing experience.
Correction: The time zones in the Kansas and Missouri entries have been corrected to CDT.