In less than three weeks a once in a lifetime event will occur across Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park, a total Solar Eclipse. At approximately 10:16am on Monday August 21st, the eclipse will begin, as the moon begins to block the sun’s rays. In just over an hour, the moon will completely obscure the sun and at around 11:35am Totality will be reached. For over two minutes the Jackson Hole Valley will be cast into darkness.
The 2017 Eclipse is the first to cross the entire continent since 1918, and will be visible in twelve states, from Oregon to South Carolina. With stunning mountain vistas, Grand Teton National Park and the valley of Jackson Hole are popular locations for viewing the eclipse, which is predicted to be the valley’s largest event in history. Planning on viewing the eclipse in Jackson Hole? Here’s what you need to know.
Eclipse viewers will want to find a location within the path of totality (see above map). Jackson hole is a spectacular viewing area, but, due to the limited road access out of the area could be problematic if weather prevents viewing of the eclipse. Should this occur, expect gridlock of roads leaving the valley the morning of the eclipse. For those interested in playing the odds of seeing the eclipse occur over the Tetons in Jackson Hole (they are good, about 78% chance of clear skies), numerous options exist.
Grand Teton National Park expects the eclipse to be the largest event in the history of the Park and has set up 5 different designated viewing areas in prime locations throughout the park; along the road to Kelly, the Gros Ventre Campground, the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Colter Bay and Jackson Lake Lodge. Each area will have additional bathroom facilities and staff on hand to help out. The Gros Ventre Road, located in the center of the path of totality, will be a popular viewing area and will be managed for one way traffic heading north. See the below map for the other viewing areas.
Parking outside of the designated viewing areas will be restricted to existing pullouts which will fill up very early in the morning and along the shoulder of the Teton Park Road, which runs north from the Craig Thomas Discovery Center at Moose Junction along the base of the Tetons. To provide access for emergency personnel, no shoulder parking will be allowed along US HWY 26/89/191 or on the Moose/Wilson Road. Additionally, park fees will be suspended on eclipse day to ease traffic entering the park.
Great eclipse viewing options exist outside of Grand Teton National Park, right in the town of Jackson and at Teton Village. Wyoming Stargazing is offering a free public eclipse viewing event at the base of Snow King Mountain. An eclipse viewing area is available at Teton Village and a limited number of tickets are being sold for those who want to ride the Sweetwater Gondola up Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Hiking opens up numerous possibilities for great eclipse viewing locations. The majority of the Teton Range falls within the path of totality and a hike to any of the summits should provide for great viewing. The Gros Ventre Mountains east of Jackson Hole, Palisades Wilderness Study Area to the South, and Snow King Mountain, located just south of town will also provide great viewing locations.
Regardless of location be sure to find a view looking south and east to watch the eclipse. If you want to see the moon’s shadow racing across the earth at about 1 kilometer per second get a view looking to the west.
With the 2017 Jackson Solar Eclipse expected to be the biggest day in history, traffic will be a major issue, expect significant delays both before and after the eclipse. Many eclipse viewers will use bicycles and the extensive Pathway System to avoid traffic delays. Those using vehicles are encouraged to carpool or use the START bus route which will be free on eclipse day.
Plan on Getting Stuck! It is likely that roads may become impassable before and after the eclipse so plan accordingly. Ecotour Adventures trips will be leaving early to arrive at our viewing locations and plan on staying there well after the end of the eclipse. Bring sufficient food, drink, and emergency supplies for the day and plan on limited or unavailable cellular or internet service due to the increased amount of visitors. Please protect our public lands by packing out anything you pack in!
Once you have arrived at your eclipse location sit back and enjoy the show. Solar glasses or some other approved solar filter is a must for viewing the eclipse until the exact moment of totality at around 11:35 am, when it will be safe to view without them for around 2 minutes. We will be handing out free solar glasses on all Grand Teton and Yellowstone Safari Tours the week before the eclipse, find out how to join us here.
Other things to do in Jackson Before and After the Eclipse
The week before and after the 2017 Jackson Eclipse will be full of fun activities both eclipse and non eclipse related. On Saturday August 19th Wyoming Stargazing is offering a Pre Eclipse Party featuring Nasa Astronaut Scott Altman and Astrobiologist Dr. David Grinspoon. Visit their website for more information.
On Tuesday, August 22nd The Town, County, and Grand Teton National Park are hosting post eclipse cleanups, find out how you can join by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Though our trips the day of the 2017 Teton Eclipse are fully booked, August is a great time for wildlife viewing in both Grand Teton and National Parks and EcoTour Adventures will be out leading half, full day and multi day trips of the parks. Learn more about how to join us here!
Header Background Photo: Solar Eclipse by Luc Viatour, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=132886
Photos and blog by Naturalist Josh Metten