By Sarah Pridgeon
With hotels and campsites along the path of the eclipse now full to bursting, overflow traffic is beginning to trickle into Crook County for the rare solar event this August. Motels across the area are reporting extra bookings around the big day on August 21, the first time a total solar eclipse has crossed the entire continental United States since 1918.
It’s not yet clear how many tourists will choose Wyoming for their eclipse viewing experience, but some estimates suggest that the total number could match the state’s population at more than half a million visitors.
The Best Western in Hulett has received a lot of calls for the time around the eclipse, reports Rose Ann Olson. While the motel does still have some vacancies, the Best Western is expecting the influx of tourists to continue spilling over into Crook County’s northernmost town.
In Moorcroft, the Cozy Motel will serve as a starting point for visitors who are aiming to reach the path of totality in time on the morning of the eclipse. The night before the event, the motel is already fully booked.
“We’re actually full that day, the 20th. Most people are leaving the morning of the 21st,” says Donna Bojan.
In Sundance, the Best Western has seen a huge increase in bookings over the last week or so, although internet reservations began to come in as early as June 1, says Dione’ Moon.
“It’s mostly for August 20 and 21,” she says. “It looks like we might be full completely on the day before and the day of.”
The Arrowhead is booked solid on August 18 and 19 thanks to a motorcycle group taking over almost the entire motel, says owner Bill Hopson.
“On August 20, I’m booked, and on August 21 I have only two singles left,” he says.
The motel is fully booked again on August 22 and only has a few rooms left for August 23.
“People booked early – as soon as they knew about it, they booked,” Hopson says.
Crook County is not, however, a prime viewing spot for eclipse tourists because it lies outside the path of totality. Only within that path will viewers experience the full effects of the rare event.
The eclipse will pass straight across the center of the state from west to east; the further it goes, the longer the totality will last. While sky-watchers in Jackson will experience total darkness for 2 minutes and 22 seconds, those heading to Glendo can expect it to last for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
Times will also vary slightly across the path, with totality at 11:36 a.m. in the west of the state and 11:48 a.m. on the eastern border.
The path of the eclipse runs slightly north of Jackson and Riverton and just to the south of Casper, Douglas and Glendo. Though the path is 70 miles wide, the closer you are to the centerline, the longer the total solar eclipse will last.
Only those within the path of totality will experience the full eclipse, though Crook County, along with the rest of the nation, will see at least a partial eclipse. This will still allow viewers to observe the moon moving across the face of the sun, but the moon will “miss” the exact center of the sun and will not block the light entirely.