Even though the total solar eclipse doesn’t hit until August 21, the places that will deliver “path of totality”—astronomer-speak for the optimal position from which to view the event because you’re in the direct path of the resulting blackness—have already become highly prized. While the eclipse will be visible throughout North America, only a 70-mile-wide region of the U.S.—from Oregon to South Carolina—will be in that famed “the path of totality.” To find the perfect spot, feel free to plumb the depths of NASA’s own (free) maps. Or just use our regional guide.
Next up: The Rocky Mountains, which will witness totality in Idaho and Wyoming. These two states are home to some of the most spectacular landscapes in the country, landscapes that should offer stunning vistas to take in the eclipse.
Like the city of Portland, Idaho’s capital city won’t hit complete totality but if you’re okay with 99.5 percent darkness (at 11:27 AM), it could be a good alternative given the mad dash to all the spots in the state that’ll witness a full black out. As with Portland, the advantage of a big city should also help secure accommodations, and provide plenty of other distractions for the rest of your stay. Want totality? Go to Idaho Falls.
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idaho
What better place to take in this celestial experience than this surreal national monument, which boasts a vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of cinder cones and sage. Established camp sites will likely get snatched up quickly, but they are first-come, first serve, so plot accordingly. And the state’s Snake River Valley will also get 2min and 18sec of darkness, along with wide-open vistas and solid weather prospects.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The entire part sits within the path of totality, hitting at 11:34 AM for 2:20 of darkness. The nearby city of Jackson will likely see mobs of eclipse enthusiasts that almost certainly strain accommodations both there and the nearby resort of Jackson Hole, but you can backpack-camp in the park itself, meaning you’ll just need to find the right spot to pitch your backcountry tent the night before. Or go big and hike up Gannett Peak, which stands at 13,809 feet and is the highest point in the entire eclipse. But be warned: serious mountaineers say it can take three to five days to reach the treacherous summit.
AstroCon 2017, which stretches from August 17-21, is the annual national convention of the Astronomical League—nearly 300 societies gathering in Casper, WY. Prepare to attempt to out-geek the most geekiest of solar eclipse nerds. And yes, of course, it’s on the path of totality.