Total Solar Eclipse 2017: When, where and how to see it

Barbara May

Barbara May

If you’re in the right place at the right time on Aug. 21, you can catch a glimpse of one of nature’s most stunning sights, a total solar eclipse. But lots of people have the same idea, so the sooner you make your travel plans the better.

A total eclipse occurs when the moon completely covers the sun, with the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, becoming visible. In the United States, the best view will take place over a swath about 70 miles wide, passing through parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse. Depending on where you are, at most the total eclipse will last about 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Remember to protect your eyes with special viewing glasses during partial phases of the eclipse. (Go to for more information.)

There are many options for travelers to see the eclipse while spending time in some of the country’s most historic and beautiful spots.

Oregon has a number of events during the weekend, from the Willamette Country Music Festival, Aug. 17-20, to the Redmond Brewfest, Aug. 18-19. On eclipse day, some of the best viewing will be from the steps of the state capitol in Salem at about 10:15 a.m. Or explore some of the area’s wineries, many of which have brunch and other special programs planned for Aug. 21.

The path of the eclipse goes through Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, making the Jackson Hole area an ideal and beautiful spot. Take the chairlift up to Snow King Mountain for an unforgettable view. Afterward, enjoy the town of Jackson with its restaurants, bars and shops. Outdoor enthusiasts can go hiking, horseback riding and rafting. Or just enjoy the magnificent scenery and abundant wildlife.

St. Joseph, Mo., one of the larger cities in the path of the eclipse, and a place with links to the Pony Express, is planning a weekend of events. The city’s Wyeth-Tootle Mansion, home to a 19th-century British astronomer, the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art and Pony Express National Museum all have special events scheduled. The Trails West Festival will be Aug. 18-21 with music, food, art and crafts. The eclipse starts there at 1:06 p.m.

The tiny North Carolina village of Cashiers, located on a plateau in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is holding an Eclipse Fest Aug. 21 on the Village Green, a 12.5-acre park with walking paths, gardens, sculptures and picnic spots. The surrounding area, with its forests, lakes, rivers and waterfalls, is a great place to explore nature.

Royal Caribbean’s, Oasis of the Seas is offering a seven-night Caribbean sailing called the “Total Eclipse Cruise,” which will cruise to the optimal spot at sea for guest to witness the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21. It’s an out-of-this-world moment at sea, and the celebration continues all sailing-long with more special events and celestial surprises on board.