Brief but spectacular, the long-anticipated total eclipse of the sun arrives in the United States August 21, and the travel industry is gearing up with special packages and itineraries for travelers looking to take part in the epic singularly American event.
Beginning around 10:15 a.m. local time in Oregon, the total eclipse (which lies completely within the continental U.S. and touches no other country) will traverse diagonally across 10 states, exiting near Charleston, SC, around 2:50 p.m. local time.
The 70-mile total viewing path crosses over the homes of about 100 million Americans, but untold tens of thousands others are booking hotels and private jets to make sure they are part of the stunning celestial show.
The Oregon Tourism Commission, Travel Oregon, is estimating one million residents and tourists will visit places like the capital, Salem, as well as prime rural viewing areas like Warm Springs, Madras, Mitchell, Prairie City and Huntington in Eastern Oregon.
Major cities in the path of the eclipse include Kansas City and St. Louis, MO; Nashville, TN; and Greenville and Charleston, SC. And they all are preparing for an influx of visitors.
In Carbondale, Ill., more than 50,000 people will view the eclipse, while NASA streams the eclipse live around the world from Southern Illinois University's Saluki Stadium.
Popular St. Louis venues like the Magic House at the St. Louis Children's Museum, and the Urban Chestnut Grove Brewery and Bierhall, are offering viewing parties. The Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis is offering accommodations and gourmet picnic baskets to-go for its guests.
In Charleston, there are eclipse kayak tours and the local minor league baseball team, the RiverDogs, is opening the gates early for special events including guests from NASA.
Beginning around 11:35 a.m. local time, the southern part of Grand Teton National Park will be right along the exact centerline of the path of totality, so Jackson Hole, WY, is nearly sold out already.
Directly under the totality of the solar eclipse for 2 minutes, 20 seconds, with the partial eclipse lasting for over 2-1/2 hours, Jackson Hole and nearby parks are expected to exceed all-time records for visitors, lodging and traffic.
According to New Flight Charters, Jackson Hole Airport should reach a record private jet and charter aircraft traffic during the days leading up to and directly after August 21.
"Right now, August 18 looks to be busier than a December 26 at the airport," said New Flight Charters president Rick Colson. "We knew this would be busy but the numbers we are seeing are amazing."
To accommodate visitors, commercial airlines have added an additional 15 flights between August 18 and 23, three more per day than normal. Grand Teton National Park is expecting August 21 to be the busiest day in the history of the park.
Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean International is hosting the Total Eclipse Cruise on the Oasis of the Seas. Departing from Port Canaveral, FL, guests have the convenienceof visiting the Kennedy Space Center beforehand. The eclipse can be seen on day two of the cruise, as the Oasis of the Seas hosts eclipse-themed parties on board, with trivia contests, lectures, and activities for children and adults.