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Contestants: Plan around the 8/21 eclipse

Eclipse photo

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.- From Saturday-Tuesday, Aug. 19-22, an extra 1-3 million people are expected to visit Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri – in addition to many of those states’ combined 12 million residents taking short drives – to see the total solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21.  ( Wyoming alone may see a temporary increase of 100,000-250,000 people, since the total-eclipse band runs from Jackson to Torrington.

It’s the first time in decades that a total solar eclipse has crossed the entire mainland – it will start at the northwest tip of Oregon at about 7 a.m. PDT, move across central Idaho and Wyoming between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. MDT, cut diagonally across Nebraska and Missouri, then continue southeast through Tennessee to Charleston, S.C., leaving the coast at about 5 p.m. EDT.

 “Eclipse tourism” may affect rodeo contestants in several ways:

  • Interstates and many highways in the area may be gridlocked Monday, Aug. 21, and experience significant congestion for several days before and after that date.
  • Gas stations may run out of fuel and water.
  • Hotel/motel/RV/Airbnb accommodations may be difficult to find, and more expensive (campsites started filling up a year ago); restaurants may be full, or run out of food.
  • Cell phone traffic may be jammed or extremely slow; consider getting print maps of your routes ahead of time, or a satellite phone.
  • Eye damage (even blindness lasting from six months to a lifetime) can be caused by looking at the partial stages of the eclipse; sunglasses – even stacked up – and polarized car windows do not protect your eyes, but dark (No. 14) welders’ glasses and special eclipse-viewing glasses do; however, it is safe to look at the sun during the two minutes the moon completely covers the sun if you are in the totality belt.
  • During the eclipse itself, drivers should be aware of other drivers who may be blinded or distracted by the eclipse.
  • Animals may behave restlessly; however, most animals don’t generally look right into the sun, so are less likely to be blinded by the eclipse.

Travel to PRCA rodeos may be affected by eclipse tourism traffic from Aug. 19-23. For example, U.S. Highway 26 across Wyoming lies entirely within the totality belt. If there are wildfires near the eclipse-viewing areas, even more visitors will crowd into less smoky spots. You may want to keep as much as possible of your travel north or south of the eclipse band as possible; I-90 and I-40 are well outside the band, as are I-70 west of Denver and I-80 west of Salt Lake City.

The path of the total eclipse is about 70 miles wide and goes roughly through Salem, Ore.; Casper, Wyo., the Nebraska Sandhills; St. Joseph, Mo.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Charleston, S.C.  Areas north and south of that path will see only a partial eclipse, and are not expected to be as congested except for people traveling to and from the total-eclipse path.

You may want to allow extra travel time near the following PRCA rodeos near the eclipse totality path whose dates are near the expected travel crunch period of Aug. 19-23:

  • Canby, Ore., Aug. 15-19
  • Caldwell, Idaho, Aug. 15-19
  • Burley, Idaho, Aug. 17-19
  • Moses Lake, Aug. 17-19
  • Gooding, Idaho, Aug. 17-19
  • Imboden, Ark., Aug. 18-19
  • Deadwood, S.D. steer roping events, Aug. 19-21
  • Miles City, Mont., Aug. 22-23
  • Kennewick, Wash., Aug. 22-26
  • Vinita, Okla., Aug. 23-26

Eclipse-viewing festivals may include:

  • Oregon: Salem, Big Summit, Brooks, Madras, Scio, Corvallis, Dallas, Lebanon, Mount Vernon, Independence, Scio, Albany, Sublimity, Terrebonne, Stayton
  • Idaho: Ashton, Idaho Falls, McKay
  • Wyoming: Glendo, Casper, Gillette, Camp New Fork, Riverton
  • Nebraska: Tryon, Stapleton, Alliance, North Platte, Kearney, Dannebrog, Grand Island, Beatrice, Pawnee City, Hastings, Lexington, Cozad
  • Missouri: St. Joseph, Lathrop, Washington, St. Clair, Marshall, Jefferson City
  • Illinois: Carbondale
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