Oregon braces for eclipse’s agony and ecstasy

Mount Jefferson
Oregon’s Mount Jefferson looms on the western horizon outside Madras. The fields on either side of the blacktop road will be turned into a “Solartown” campground for 4,900 tents during the runup to the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

MADRAS, Ore. – If there’s one thing central Oregon has in abundance, it’s open space. And that’s a good thing for the total solar eclipse that’s due to sweep through the region on Aug. 21.

Even though hotel rooms are sold out anywhere that’s even near the 70-mile-wide zone of totality running across the state, there’s still a good chance of finding an enterprising landowner who’ll rent you a camping spot.

But if there’s one thing central Oregon doesn’t have a whole lot of, it’s four-lane highways.

That’s likely to be an issue for the hundreds of thousands of eclipse-chasers who are expected to swarm into towns like Madras, Prineville, Mitchell and John Day. Or maybe not.

“The bad thing about it is that nobody knows how bad it’s going to get,” said Terry Hansen, park host for Round Butte Overlook Park, just west of Madras.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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