Jackson Hole is in the path of totality for what is being called the Great American Solar Eclipse on August 21st. Although most hotels are already fully booked in Jackson Hole and campgrounds in and around both Jackson and Grand Teton National Park are likely to fill up quickly, this is nevertheless to place to be to witness this amazing astronomical event.
The last time totality crossed the nation from the Pacific to the Atlantic was during the solar eclipse of June 8, 1918, when it crossed the United States from Washington state to Florida. This path is roughly similar to the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse.
Please be aware that this eclipse event is estimated to draw an additional 40,000 or so people to the Jackson Hole area during the already busy summer tourist season—so be prepared for crowds.
What Time Will the Solar Eclipse Take Place?
According to the Jackson Hole-based astronomy organization Wyoming Stargazing, the total solar eclipse will begin at about 10:17 a.m. directly above Jackson. The first 1 hour and 18 minutes or so will just be a partial eclipse. Then, at approximately 11:35 a.m., the moon will pass directly in front of the sun blocking out the majority of the sun’s light. For the following 2 minutes and several seconds—the exact duration depends on your exact location, Wyoming Stargazing says—the sun’s corona will be visible. After that the sun will be partially eclipsed until about 1 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.
“You will have the opportunity to see the shadow cone of the moon racing towards you from the west just before the moment of totality,” says Dr. Samuel Singer, founder and executive director of Wyoming Stargazing.
Where To Go To Watch the Solar Eclipse
The line of totality of the eclipse goes right through Grand Teton National Park and neighboring Teton Valley. However, the duration of totality will only vary by a few seconds from anywhere in the valley, according to Wyoming Stargazing.
There are several pull-outs to park at along Hwy 26/191/89, the Inner Park Loop, Gros Ventre Road and Antelope Flats Road that would work well for viewing and taking pictures of the eclipse. Keep in mind those pull-outs will likely fill up fast on the morning of the eclipse, so plan on getting there early!
Grand Teton National Park is anticipating its busiest day ever. It will alter traffic flow and parking to accommodate eclipse viewers, and there will be designated viewing areas with rangers on hand.
Of course, getting up high offers you an amazing vantage point. Consider climbing or hiking one of the many peaks in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park, such as Rendezvous Mountain at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain, Jackson Peak, Sheep Mountain, Mount Glory, Static Peak, or various other peaks in the Tetons.
Don't feel like hiking to the top? No problem! We suggest driving to the top of Signal Mountain in Grand Teton National Park, Shadow Mountain (accessible from Antelope Flats Road), or over to the heights of Curtis Canyon off the National Elk Refuge Road.
You can also take the scenic chairlift at Snow King to the summit. Snow King is offering a limited number of Big King Passes the day of the eclipse that will provide access to the scenic lift and can be used the entire day for unlimited Cowboy Coaster rides, Alpine Slide rides, bungee trampoline access, miniature golf and a trip through the Treetop Adventure Course. Passes can be purchased in advance for $125 per person online and will sell out prior to the eclipse.
At Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Aerial Tram tickets have already sold out, but you can still purchase tickets in advance ($50 per person) for the Sweetwater Gondola, which also offers a well, sweet view! Each gondola ticket comes with a pair of eclipse viewing glasses. There will be no tickets will be sold the day of the event and people will be loaded on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8 a.m.
There will also be a public viewing area next to the Ranch Lot on the northeast corner of Teton Village.
On the other side of the Teton Range at Grand Targhee Mountain Resort, you can avail yourself of the Dreamcatcher Scenic Chairlift Ride on the day of the eclipse. Only 170 lift tickets are available for purchase; tickets are non-refundable. Dreamcatcher will be open for those with pre-purchased tickets at 8:30 a.m.
No matter where you decide to watch the eclipse, think about bringing a special—an elegant!—picnic lunch with you. Snake River Grill is creating beautiful English wicker baskets with a commemorative brass “JH Eclipse 2017” tag. The baskets are for four people and include house-made picnic favorites, plates, silverware, a bottle of rosé, wine glasses and napkins. Baskets must be pre-ordered and prepaid for on Snake River Grill's website by July 1st.
Be prepared. And be safe!
- Cell phones may not work due to high usage demands. Some of the remote locations in our region have no/low cellular coverage. Text messages may be more reliable than phone calls, especially when trying to contact 9-1-1.
- In an emergency you may send a text message to 9-1-1. Simply text the number 911 and in the message include your location, the nature of your emergency and if you need police, fire, medical or search and rescue. Do not use abbreviations. Be prepared for a delayed response.
- Stock up on groceries or make dining reservations in advance, as restaurants may be crowded.
- Fill your gas tanks. We are expecting additional demand and congestion on the roadways.
- Visit the banks/ ATMs early, as ATMs may run out of cash due to visitation surge. Lodging accommodations are limited.
- Hotels, camping and RV camping are near capacity. Visitors may need to look outside of Jackson and Teton County for accommodations. Be sure to have your accommodations arranged prior to arrival.
How to view the eclipse
- Special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or handheld solar viewers provide the only safe way to look directly at the un-eclipsed or partially eclipsed sun. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not sufficient.
- “Eclipse glasses” are available at many local businesses throughout the community.
- Proper eye protection is necessary to safely look directly at the sun before and after eclipse totality. Severe eye injury can result without protection. Eclipse glasses are the simplest method to view the eclipse from start to finish.
- Never look directly at the sun's rays without proper eye protection—even if the sun is partly obscured. During the short time when the moon completely blocks the sun—the period of totality—you may look directly at the sun.
- If you begin to experience blurry vision while viewing the eclipse it is recommended to rest your eyes for 10-15 minutes. If symptoms persist, seek medical attention. Please do not drive yourself to a medical facility if you are experiencing impaired vision.
Will There Be Any Solar Eclipse-Related Events?
While there are bound to be numerous events in Jackson Hole surrounding the August 21st eclipse, not all have been announced yet, so keep checking back with us. Here's what we have for now:
- Snow King Mountain will be holding a free event at the base featuring food trucks, music, eclipse information and telescopes with Wyoming Stargazing (solar glasses will be for sale via the organization) and more.
- Eclipse Party at Bodega: Watch the Great American Eclipse with unobstructed views from Bodega in Teton Village, at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. With the food truck cooking up fried chicken sandwiches, a plethora of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverage options for purchase, bring your blanket and lounge in casual style while catching the action above in the Village.
- Great Eclipse Bash at Roadhouse Pub & Eatery: Come to the Roadhouse on the Moose-Wilson Road in Wilson from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The outdoor party will feature food and beverage tents, lawn games, activities for all ages and live music at noon with local band, Sneaky Pete & the Secret Weapons. Tickets are available at three different levels, ranging in price from $25 to $125. Kids (ages 12 and younger): includes unlimited food and non-alcoholic beverages; food only for ages 13+: includes unlimited food and non-alcoholic beverages; all inclusive: includes unlimited food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Must be 21+ with valid ID. All tickets include eclipse glasses.
- Wyoming Stargazing will also be offering its services for a large public event in downtown Jackson (specific location TBD). The organization will have solar glasses for purchase, a telescope with a white light solar filter and a hydrogen alpha telescope to give you incredible views of the sun’s corona and flares during the total eclipse. During the week leading up to the eclipse, and for a few days after it, there will be stargazing programs and other daytime astronomy related events; specifics will be announced at a later date.
- At Teton Village and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Pinky & the Floyd will perform after the eclipse in a Concert on the Commons at 2 p.m.
- The Town of Jackson has a new website with important information about the eclipse: tetoneclipse.com. Be sure and refer to the site before or just after arriving in Jackson Hole for helpful suggestions and eclipse-related events scoop.
Related articles: Things To Do in Jackson Hole in August
Does the Solar Eclipse Pose Any Danger?
“Only if the excitement is too much for you to contain!” says Dr. Singer.
“Please remember that the only time you can look directly at the sun is during the two minutes of totality,” he says. “The rest of the time you need to use an approved solar filter or solar glasses to protect your eyes.”
Wyoming Stargazing is going to be purchasing many thousands of pairs of solar glasses for viewing. Many retailers in town are also selling glasses; just ask at the register!
Eclipse Guide Book
You may want to get a copy of the “Jackson Hole Total Eclipse Guide: Commemorative Official Guidebook,” by Aaron Linsdau of Jackson Hole. This 65-page booklet includes general information about eclipses with a focus on Jackson Hole—the book explains exactly where the sun will be and more. It also explains how to photograph the total eclipse.
“The difference between shooting a partial and a total eclipse is massive,” Aaron says. “Your exposure goes from, well, the sun, all the way to starlight in a few seconds. Can you shoot 11 bracketed shots in two minutes under pressure? That’s what it takes to capture that corona and the stars.”
Aaron also includes an important tip about remembering that parts of Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park are bear territory, so while you’re staring sunward keep that in mind (i.e. have pepper spray)!
The book is available For $9.95 on Amazon Kindle, or it can be purchased locally at: Valley Bookstore, Jackson Book Trader, By Nature Gallery, Skinny Skis, Gifts of the Earth, and The Wort Hotel’s gift shop.
This story was written by Julie Butler, editor of Jackson Hole Traveler. You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.