Solar Eclipse 2017
On Aug. 21, the United States will experience “The Great American Eclipse” — an event nearly a century in the making. As the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire country since 1918, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime celestial spectacle. Those within the 70-mile-wide line of totality, which starts in Oregon and ends in South Carolina, will get to witness up to 2 minutes, 40 seconds of darkness.
In this series, we’ll spotlight a few of the best viewing locations along the path, including Salem, OR, Jackson Hole, WY, Nashville, TN and Columbia, SC. Whether you travel to your preferred city the weekend before or turn the trip into a weeklong summer vacation, you’ll find no shortage of things to do in each locale.
Viewing Location Spotlight: Salem, OR
One of the best viewing areas along the path is in Salem, OR. Fly into Seattle, WA, where you can pick up a vehicle from EZ Rent A Car and set out on an unforgettable adventure in the Beaver State.
About three and a half hours south of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Salem is the first of five state capitals in the path and will experience totality for approximately 1 minute, 54 seconds.
In addition to Great American Eclipse Weekend at the Capitol, many Salem-area towns are also hosting special viewing festivals, which include Independence Goes Dark, EclipseFest, Great Oregon Solar Eclipse Campout, Dallas Eclipse Celebration on the Square and Night Before S’mores Party and Fireside Celebration, among countless others.
Plus, leading up to the big event, Oregonians and visitors alike can participate in a variety of pre-eclipse activities, such as the Out-of-this-World Eclipse Concert, Science Night for Adults at Gilbert House Children’s Museum, Total Eclipse of the Cob Aumsville Corn Festival, “Little Shop of Horrors” at The Elsinore Theatre, River City Music and Art Jamboree, Great Eclipse Concert — “Dark Side of the Moon” — and more.
While you’re in the area, take advantage of some of Salem’s scenic and wild outdoor activities. Visit Silver Falls State Park, where you can hike the Trail of Ten Falls, then stop in the historic town of Silverton, home to the Oregon Garden and the Gordon House, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. See great blue herons, eagles, the endangered Fender’s blue butterfly and other wildlife at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge. Go whale watching off the Oregon Coast. Go whitewater rafting on the North Santiam River. Chill by the Willamette River at downtown Salem’s Riverfront Park, where you can stroll along flat, paved trails, enjoy an old-time carousel and check out the 86,000 colorful tiles on the Eco Earth Globe.
For a one-of-a-kind experience, take a nostalgic journey into the magical storybook world of the Enchanted Forest amusement park.
Of course, no trip to Oregon would be complete without visiting Portlandia! Before or after your Salem eclipse viewing and adventures, be sure to make some time for a stop in Portland, located less than three hours south of the Seattle airport and less than an hour northeast of Salem.
Stuff your mouth with a Bacon Maple Bar, Tex-Ass, Cock-N-Balls, Old Dirty Bastard or Triple Chocolate Penetration at Voodoo Doughnut. Visit Powell’s City of Books — the largest used and new bookstore in the world. Tour downtown Portland by Segway. Explore interactive exhibits and much more at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). Experience the tranquility of the Portland Japanese Garden. Be awed by Multnomah Falls. Breathe in the sweet air at Hood River Lavender Farm. Soar through the forest on a canopy zip line tour in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge. Get a great view of Portland’s bridges, skyline and waterfront while being spun and splashed on a Willamette Jetboat Excursion. The activities are endless!
While viewing the once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse in Salem will be worth the trip in and of itself, the Beaver State will surely leave you feeling dam eager to return for more Oregon adventures!
Solar Eclipse Fun Facts
- A solar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon and Earth are in exact alignment.
- The year the last total solar eclipse was visible in the United States was 1979 — in just five states. The total solar eclipse of 2017 will pass through 12 states, from coast to coast.
- While the sun and moon appear to be the same size during a total solar eclipse, this is an illusion. The sun is 400 times wider than the moon and 400 times farther away, so they only coincidentally appear the same size.
- The faint light that appears around the moon during a total solar eclipse is part of the sun’s outmost atmosphere, called the corona.
- Wildlife can be confused by totality. As the sky grows dark and resembles twilight, you may hear roosters crowing and grasshoppers chirping.
Written by: Angie Lewis