I’ve never been a fan of crowds, so I’ve been planning my eclipse trip as a
self-sufficient campout. Traditional camping venues are full but some private landowners are opening up for a fee – often with added enticements like live music.
Rural areas may be overwhelmed. Consider Oregon.
The first place to experience total darkness as the moon passes between the sun and the Earth will be in Oregon and Madras, in the central part of the state, is expected to be a prime viewing location. Up to 1 million people (!) are expected in Oregon for the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in 99 years and up to 100,000 could show up in Madras and surrounding Jefferson County. Officials are worried about the ability of the rural area to host so many visitors and are concerned about the danger of wildfire from so many people camping on public lands…
In this vast expanse of ranches and farms, rural, two-lane roads could mean traffic jams of cosmic proportions. Every hotel in Madras is booked, some residents are renting their homes for $3,000 a night, and campers are expected to flood the national forests and grasslands during peak wildfire season… first responders will prepare to respond as they would for a natural disaster. Cell towers could be overwhelmed, traffic will be gridlocked, and police and fire stretched to the max managing the crowds… businesses are being told to use cash only, to avoid bringing down the wireless network.
As a volunteer firefighter I appreciate the danger – something most people won’t be familiar with. “Just driving off-road – having that contact with a hot muffler or a catalytic converter – could start an ignition. And in these fine fuels, it could spread very quickly.”
Even if you’ve already got reservations, plan to be as independent as possible – pack food and water. And toilet paper.
It’ll be worth it.
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about – look here.