On August 21, 2017, the skies over central Oregon will go dark at 10:18 am (PST). That is when the moon will pass directly in front of the sun, creating the first full solar eclipse to occur in North America since 1979. In Oregon, the Path of Totality (see map), where the sun will be 100% blocked, will stretch for more than 63 miles, and will cover the PCT from approximately Santiam Pass (OR mile 309; PCT mile 1,998) to Timothy Lake (OR mile 382; PCT mile 2,071).
Within this area, the ideal place to observe the eclipse is anywhere you have a clear view of the eastern sky, 39 degrees above the horizon—think halfway between the horizon and directly overhead. The show will begin at approximately 9:05 am (PST), when the moon begins its passage in front of the sun. It will take more than an hour to reach full coverage, at which point day will become night—a spectacular and awe-inspiring show unlike any other!
Where to See the Eclipse
To witness the full extent of the eclipse—almost 2 whole minutes of darkness—you want to be as near the center of the path as possible. Unfortunately, the center of the path is right in Jefferson Park, which is currently closed due to the Whitewater Fire. In fact, nearly half of the Path of Totality along the PCT is no longer accessible due to the fire closure. That means you have to get to the northern portion of the path—either Breitenbush Lake or Olallie Lake. We’ve updated our list of suggested areas where you still may catch a good show, despite the closures.
1. MINTO PASS (OR mile 320; PCT mile 2,009)
Just south of fire closure area and above Wasco Lake, there are good, clear views eastward; the view from the lake below may be obstructed.
4. BREITENBUSH LAKE (OR Mile 348; PCT mile 2,037)
If you can get around the fire (try approaching via Olallie Lake), you may be able to catch the show. You could also go a few miles north to Ruddy Hill and get a little elevation for a good view.
4. MANY LAKES VIEWPOINT (OR mile 351; PCT mile 2040)
This rock outcrop, a couple miles south of Olallie Lake, rests high above Timber, Monon and Olallie lakes, with big panoramic views eastward. The space is small, so claim it early.
5. NORTH PINHEAD BUTTE (OR mile 367; PCT mile 2056)
On the north side of North Pinhead Butte find this open scree slopes that offers wide-open views eastward. You’re looking over harvested timberland, but the view is clear.
Areas north and south of the Path of Totality will not experience the full eclipse. For example, Portland will experience 99% of the eclipse, and Eugene will experience 98% of the eclipse. And these partial coverages will occur in just seconds, as the moon keeps moving past. Because of their location outside of the total path, these areas will not see total nighttime-like darkness, but just a dimming of the sky. The farther away from the path, the less of an eclipse effect. Thus, if you want to see the big shebang, you need to find a place inside the actual path.
How to Watch the Eclipse
USE EYE PROTECTION You should never look at a partial eclipse with the naked eye, or risk eye damage. Only when the sun is 100% covered by the moon—in the Path of Totality—should you peek without eye protection. For viewing the eclipse as its happening, wear shaded eye protection—not sunglasses! You can purchase eclipse-viewing glasses online, or just about anywhere in Oregon right now.
CHOOSE YOUR SPOT And get there early! If you’re planning to be section- or thru-hiking through Oregon and want to catch the eclipse, choose a viewing location away from trailheads and side trails—and plan to get there a day or two early. Eclipse viewers will be flooding into easily-accessible places the evening before and morning of the event. Stake out your spot and settle in for the big event—it’s worth an extra zero day!
CROSS YOUR FINGERS Oregon’s summer weather is pretty reliably sunny and clear. However, it’s not out of the ordinary for a random summer storm to pass through. As the eclipse date gets closer, we’ll be carefully watching the weather forecast and posting updates in our weekly conditions reports. You can also follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds for midweek news and updates.
More Eclipse Info
Eclipse 2017 – All things eclipse related.
PCT Crowds – Tips and suggestions from PCTA.
Travel Oregon – Details and info for catching the eclipse across the state.
Space.com – Tips for safely viewing a solar eclipse.
Main photo: The sun’s corona shines brightly during a full solar eclipse. Photo by Kurt Kulac.