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Tips for the Total Eclipse on Oregon Coast: Lodging, Viewpoints

Published 03/27/2017 at 5:03 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Tips for the Total Eclipse on Oregon Coast: Lodging, Viewpoints

(Oregon Coast) – August 21 will be either the most incredible sight for Oregon and the coast, or it will cause a riot if the sun is covered up. That is the day of the big total solar eclipse, which is already creating traffic and tourism headaches around the state, where it will first touch down on the Oregon coast just after 10 a.m.

Everything in Lincoln County and the rest of Oregon that's along the path of total darkness is booked up, leaving Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport and Yachats essentially out of reach for lodgings. Yet there may be some ways around this.

The line of totality along the Oregon coast runs from Waldport up to just beyond Pacific City, about 64 miles worth of darkness. It's that area that's hit the hardest in terms of traffic and lodgings. It's a route which includes Waldport, Seal Rock, Newport, Otter Rock, Depoe Bay, Lincoln Beach, Gleneden Beach, Lincoln City, Neskowin, Pacific City and even Tierra Del Mar.

The absolute center line runs just north of Depoe Bay, and that's where the longest amount of time in total darkness will be for the Oregon coast. It's a two-mile stretch that's from the northern part of Depoe Bay (probably at Boiler Bay) up to Lincoln Beach. That area will get to see one minute and 58 seconds of no sun. From there, as you head north or south, the time gets progressively less.

With all the lodging issues, there are some rather unknown options, including sticking to areas just outside that boundary. This won't get you the full effect (but in August chances are 50/50 you'll get cloud cover anyway). Just outside of that totality will bring you some interesting sights, however.

Traffic is still uncharted territory.

First, a look at the differences. Dave Clark of (NEC), said even a .1 percent just shy of total coverage will be starkly different. But there are still pluses.

“Once you get just outside the path of totality, and you're at, say, a 99.9 percent partial eclipse, the daylight will have a weird look to it and the landscape will look strange,” Clark said. “But it's not going to get dark like it will within the path of totality. I like to tell people that the difference between a total eclipse and even a 99 percent partial eclipse is like the difference between day and night, literally.

In other words, even a 99.9 percent partially eclipse Sun is still extremely bright.”

You won't see it get completely dark with a partial, but you will see a lot less light. Some science sources even talk of sunset-like colors that can erupt around this.

Fred Espenak, a former NASA astrophysicist known as Mr. Eclipse, was on NASA-TV recently saying that even a partial eclipse will create some startling differences. Especially with the wildlife around you, as crickets and frogs begun erupting in noise, thinking it's night.

Clark said anywhere in the 90 percent range will yield strange lighting, but you won't be able to see that cool coronal effects. Luckily, most of the Oregon coast gets no less than 97 percent coverage, and the split between the 99.9 percent at Cape Lookout and the 97 percent up around Astoria will yield little visual difference.

All this means your best options are to stay at a lodging north or south of that totality line, and then somehow navigate the madhouse traffic and insane parking issues going into that area.

The absolute northern boundary is just north of Tierra Del Mar, approximately about the Sand Lake Road and Galloway Road junction. There, you'll see only 18 seconds of darkness, but drive a few miles south to Tierra Del Mar and you'll get 48 seconds.

The absolute southern boundary is just south of Waldport, at about Big Creek.

This leaves staying in Florence or Yachats and then driving north to the Waldport area or even up to Newport. For the northern tip, this leaves you staying at Oceanside, Tillamook, Garibaldi or Rockaway Beach and then driving south. From Rockaway Beach it's a good half-hour drive, while Oceanside is about 15 minutes from Tierra Del Mar.

You'll have to factor in major traffic, however, and there are a lot of unknowns there.

Some other suggestions:

  1. Head to the area ahead of time and try to scout out backroads just inland. Look towards parts of Yamhill Wine Country, the Coast Range mountains like Highway 36, Highway 20 and 18, for backroads there.

  2. Settle for the not-so-full effect. Currently, places like Florence (on the southern edge of the line) or Rockaway Beach, Bay City, Wheeler, Nehalem, Manzanita, Cannon Beach, Seaside and Warrenton/Astoria are not completely booked up. But they are well within the 97 percent range and will show you strange colors and other phenomena. Click on those links to find lodgings in those areas.

  3. Keep in mind you're also competing with the height of summer, which is always completely booked up anyway on the coast, even during weekdays.

Here is a mileage rundown for towns not already fully booked for lodgings and their distance to the totality area:

Florence is about 35 miles to Waldport, and about 50 miles to Newport.

Pacific City is about 70 miles from Seaside, 50 miles to Manzanita, 20 miles to Tillamook

Note: do not attempt to look at the eclipse with your eyes. Especially the partial eclipse. Even at 99.9 percent, it will be deadly to your eyes. Do not attempt to look through your camera at the eclipse, even with the special eclipse glasses. This will even further focus the light and not only destroy the glasses but your eyes. - Maps and Virtual Tours

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