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August 4, 2017 – On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights - a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the corona or halo can be seen, will stretch from Lincoln Beach, Ore. to Charleston, S.C.
“South Dakotans will see a partial solar eclipse with 80 to 90 percent of the sun obscured,” said Marilyn Buskohl, spokesperson for AAA South Dakota. “AAA South Dakota Travel counselors report those wishing to view the eclipse in its totality are traveling to Kansas City, Mo., and Lincoln, Neb., and Casper, Wy.”
Dubbed the “Eclipse across America,” this once-in-a-lifetime event (the last total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. from coast-to-coast happened in 1918) will prove to be a tourist and vacationer’s dream, as it occurs during the final few weeks of summer. More than 250 million Americans live within 600 miles of the solar eclipse path, which will undoubtedly lead to many late-season trips to do some skyward gazing. And, because the eclipse will take place on a Monday, the trek to see it could start as early as the Friday before.
“If you’re planning to travel to the so-called path of totality, we recommend you have a plan – select a destination, map out a route, book lodging and allow plenty of travel time,” said Buskohl. “Plus, be prepared for traffic congestion in larger cities before and after the actual eclipse.”
The path of totality will pass over 14 states, starting on the coast of Oregon, at 10:15 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, and leaving American soil just north of Charleston, S.C., at 2:49 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time. It will cross cities in Oregon, Idaho, a sliver of Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, northeast Kansas, Missouri, a sliver of Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Darkness will last anywhere from a few seconds to two minutes and 41 seconds, depending on the location.
Among some of the best cities/places for viewing the “path of totality,” as noted by science experts, will likely be:
- Madras, Ore.
- Snake River Valley, Ida.
- Casper, Wy.
- Sand Hills, Neb.
- St Joseph, Mo.
- Carbondale, Ill.
- Hopkinsville, Ky.
- Nashville, Tenn.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Columbia, S.C.
“We have found that many hotels are already booked as a result of the eclipse’s draw,” said Buskohl. “Other options for last-minute travelers are camping, staying with friends or visiting a National Park. The path of totality crosses 20 national parks across the U.S.”
If you are planning an eclipse road trip, AAA South Dakota offers the following tips:
- Try to get to your viewing location one to two days ahead of the eclipse (Aug. 21).
- Pack your patience and plan for congestion on the road, especially as you get closer to locations within the path of totality.
- Book hotels, lodging, etc., as soon as possible.
- Keep up-to-date on the weather. If you hear that your original location is going to have cloudy conditions, you may want to move somewhere else.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and nearly 97,000 members in South Dakota. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.