The Lower 48’s first total solar eclipse in close to 40 years falls on August 21, 2017. And there’s no better place to see it than Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
On February 26, 1979, Jimmy Carter was midway through his term, Alien (before the many subsequent sequels, spinoffs, and reboots) was a few months shy of its release, Rod Stewart was dominating the Billboard charts, and it was the last time a total solar eclipse crossed the continental United States.
The next total solar eclipse will hit August 21, 2017, and one of the best places to take in its full, mesmerizing effects will be in the town of Jackson, in Teton County, Wyoming. That’s because it happens to fall in the “path of totality,” a place where the moon will completely and perfectly cover the sun to create total darkness (other places in the US will see only a partial solar eclipse, in which the moon appears to take a bite out of the sun’s disk). Plus, the high altitudes result in less atmospheric clouding in the already-beautiful Wyoming sky, making the views even clearer.
The full eclipse begins at 11:35 a.m. and will last only about two minutes – but in those two minutes, day will turn to night, temps will drop, and streamers of light will silhouette the moon. Partial effects could last for a couple of hours, depending on where you are, starting at about 10:15 a.m. Dying to experience this moment? Jackson Hole Noble House resorts Hotel Terra and Teton Mountain Lodge are smack-dab in the middle of the action, and are also hosting a Private Eclipse Viewing Party (see below). But, it’s not the only ideal spot in Jackson Hole (where more than 40,000 visitors are expected to flock to) to catch this landmark event.
Private Eclipse Viewing Party
Guests at Hotel Terra and Teton Mountain Lodge should look no further than this exclusive viewing experience, hosted by Spur Catering, at Gray Barn in Teton Village. Gray Barn – named after its builder, not its color – was constructed in 1920 and provides a crystal-clear view of Sleeping Indian Mountain and the surrounding area. Visitors from Wyoming Stargazing will be on hand to help guide the event and answer guests’ questions. Tickets are $225 for adults and $150 for children ages 4–12, and include transportation (which departs the hotels at 9:15!), arrival snacks, two drink tickets, a BBQ lunch following the eclipse, and souvenir eclipse glasses.
Antelope Flats Road
This narrow road that travels over sagebrush flats and rolling plains in the Jackson Hole Valley – already a favorite of photographers wanting to capture Wyoming’s natural beauty – will make an awe-inspiring location for skygazers. Simply pull off the road and you’ll get an unobstructed view of the sky because of the distance from the base of the Teton mountain range. Arrive early and poke around just up the road at Mormon Row, a line of homesteads built just after the turn of the century, before the action starts.
Consider yourself an experienced hiker? Teewinot, the fourth largest of the Tetons at 12,326 feet, is the perfect place to view the eclipse. While it’s a moderate-to-difficult climb requiring some scrambling, access is easy as the mountain ascends directly from the Lupine Meadows parking lot. The flip side of the coin is that because it’s not the easiest hike, it may not be as crowded, either. With several bald spires to choose from, you’ll be able to find a few unobstructed viewpoints from which to see the moon’s shadow cone racing across the valley.
If you’d rather not hike your way up a mountain to see the eclipse, but you still like the vantage point that a mountain provides, take a drive up this 7,720-foot summit. The five-mile road brings visitors to a paved area a bit below the main summit and offers a grand view of the east side of the park below (and above!). While visitors will certainly have some company on eclipse day, the convenience and accessibility provided by avoiding a long hike by foot is quite the value proposition.
Roadhouse Pub & Eatery
If you’re looking for some pre-eclipse fun, Roadhouse Pub & Eatery is hosting an outdoor party from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Food and drinks, lawn games, other activities, and live music from the funky, genre-blending Sneaky Pete & the Secret Weapons will keep this family-friendly party rolling right through the big event as eyes start turning to the sky. Tickets range from $25 to $125 depending on the food and drink tier, and each guest will receive a pair of eclipse glasses to watch the event.