Question Of The Week

Reader Eclipse Plans for August 21st

This week we asked our readers about their plans are for the Great American Eclipse this August 21st.  We explained where the eclipse will be viewable and offered links for additional information.  If you haven’t already, check out the original blog, Are You Going to the Great American Eclipse?

What follows are fellow truck campers chiming in on where they plan to watch the eclipse.  They suggest locations and ideas that might help with your eclipse plans.

As of now, no one has come forward with a Truck Camper Eclipse Party location, but we’ll keep the lines open.  If anything develops, we’ll post it here in TCM.

Which brings us to a convergence.  No, not the Sun and the Moon, but rather Bryan Appleby’s excellent article on how to stealth camp with a truck camper.  Isn’t that exactly what’s needed for the eclipse; free overnight parking sites in the path of the totality that no one else has thought of?  Now we’re talking!

Bryan’s article is full of ideas on how to find a place to stealth camp.  Check it out:

Stealth Camping truck camper

For more ideas, we published an article last February titled, “50 Unconventional Free Overnight Parking Recommendations”.  In that article, readers offered some of their best ideas on where to park overnight – for free.

Free Overnight Camping

Boondock for the eclipse?  Heck yeah!  Just don’t forget your protective eclipse glasses.

This week’s Question of the Week was, “Will you be truck camping under the Great American Eclipse?”

“We started making plans for the eclipse several weeks ago.  We’ll be in Nantahala National Forest (just outside the Smokies) in North Carolina/Tennessee.  I’m really glad we started making plans a while ago since public campgrounds are running out of reservations.  Our first choice was already full.  We’re proud nerds, so this is a big deal for us!” – Jennifer Kiel, 2007 Tundra, 2012 Phoenix Camper

“Our hometown of Keizer, Oregon is in the direct path of it.  So instead of camping, we’ll be home.  Our local Short A Season baseball team is having an Eclipse game that morning and they’ll be taking a game break for the eclipse.  Since we have season tickets, we’ll be at the game for it.  It should be pretty cool.

Here’s a link to the baseball game information.” – Elliott Groeneveld, 2016 Ram 3500, 2011 Arctic Fox 1150

“Oh Wow!  Like y’all, I had no idea, but this is now on our calendar!  So, yes we want to! We’re in Virginia, so South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Great Smoky National Park are all in striking range.  I would love to join in a Truck Camper Eclipse party! Who’s hosting?” – Jim McIrvin, 2015 Ford F350, 2012 Lance 1191

“My husband, Mike Dvorak, and I will be awaiting the eclipse, with our glasses on, in our Clipper Canoe, in Lake Cascade, Idaho.  We reserved our site exactly nine months in advance.  We had scoped out the sites online, and were ready and waiting to reserve our site when reservations opened.  All the sites were gone in a short time.  We can’t wait!  Nine months of anticipation for a short thrill!” – Barbara Sutton, 2003 Ram 3500, 2007 Okanagan 90W

“I made reservations last year at Crater Lake National Park.  It’s three hours away.  I’ll be up and on the road at 6:00am headed for Madras, Oregon.  This is bucket list stuff.” – Bill Harr, 2005 Toyota Tundra, 2013 Four Wheel Camper Hawk

“Maybe.  I’m only a couple states away, but it wouldn’t be my first complete eclipse.” – Philip Tron, 2009 Chevy 3500, 2012 Lance 1050

“I’ll be south of Yellowstone.  Keep me informed of all photography, astronomy, truck camper gatherings you know of.  Thanks.” – Frank Perron

“We’ve known about the upcoming eclipse for quite some time and started searching for a good camping destination last year.  Finally we settled on Dreher Island State Park just west of Columbia, South Carolina.  It’s right in the path of totality.

We have a couple waterfront campsites reserved.  One is for us and one is for our kids who will join us for a few days.  Even though the eclipse only lasts a few hours, we’re making this a five day truck camper trip.  To make things even better, we’re towing our bass boat with us so that we can watch the eclipse from the water.

Because I overthink things sometimes, we also have backup reservations at a campground near Sweetwater, Tennessee.  If the weather forecast looks bad for the Columbia area, we’ll head to Sweetwater instead and hope for good weather there!” – Tim and Nancy Sansbury, 2016 Chevy Silverado 3500HD, 2016 Camplite 8.4S

“I plan to definitely be there for this one.  While the 2024 eclipse will literally come through my backyard, I plan to go to this one.  I have picked out a series of spots from Oregon through Wyoming to give flexibility for weather.

I used Google Earth, BLM maps, and the Great American Eclipse website to find locations on BLM land near the path of the center of totality.  The best options appear to be in Wyoming, so I expect to end up there in the high desert south of US 26.” – Bill Peters, 2013 Chevy Silverado 1500, 2013 Four Wheel Camper Hawk

“I’ll be on the eastern side of Mt. Hood, Oregon.” – Michael Sasse, 2013 Toyota Tacoma, 2014 Four Wheel Camper Eagle

“I hadn’t considered it until your posting, but now I’m considering it.” – Mark Obert, 1999 Ford F250SD, 1999 Lance 920

“Yes we are!  We’ll be at Great Smokey Mountain National Park.  Come join us.” – Denver and Linda Woods, 1997 Ford F350, 2001 Lance 1121

“I will!  Exactly where I am going to be I haven’t figured out yet.  But I am stoked to have the right days off from work to be able to make an trip of some kind out of it.

I am a big fan of chasing the moon as part of making trip plans.  I’ll depart the Denver area a day or so before, and be headed anywhere from central Wyoming to central Nebraska along the eclipse path.

I have been digging deep into topo maps of both states to find an off road location to get to.  I’ll spend a bit of the late spring and summer conducting recon on where to go with quick three and four day road trips to places that look like a good viewing area, staying away from major cities so I can truck camp.

I’m sure thousands of others are doing the same, so I will steer clear of campgrounds which I know will get packed, and look for some tougher to get to off road spots well ahead of time.

This event is a great motivator to get me out into places I haven’t done much in, but have wanted to.  I like the optional Bonus Eclipse Party Idea you are inquiring about for a dry camp meet up.  I’ll be watching for that as an idea too!  I think that could be fun.” – Jim McCoy, 2003 Dodge 2500, 1990 Hallmark LaVeta

“I won’t be camping.  I live 100 miles south of Nashville, so I will just drive up.” – William Strickland

“We are camping at South Sadusky Campground on Wren lake in Carbondale, Illinois.” – Ross Vlieger, 2015 GMC Denali, 2015 Lance 992

“We are planning on it.  Our friends have been planning this out for two years and have booked 15 hotel rooms along the route to avoid weather conflicts (they’re obsessed). We will likely make it to Wyoming for the show.” – Tracy Schuster, 2015 GMC Denali 3500, 2012 Lance 992

“My wife and I will be staying home since we live in Casper, Wyoming.  The city is expecting as many as 50,000 visitors for the eclipse.” – Bob Watts, 2011 Ram 2500, 2000 Fleetwood Angler

“Yes, we will be in the Togwotee Pass area of Wyoming.  There are some forest service camping areas (no services) and some of the most beautiful scenery (just east of Grand Teton National Park) that can be found anywhere.

I am not a property owner in this area.  There are BLM and Forest Service (public – no services) camping areas in the eclipse path across Wyoming.  The only caution I would offer is do not drive off established roads and/or trails.  The BLM and Forest Service will probably be watching very closely.” – Jerry Smith, 2012 Chevy 3500, 2013 Arctic Fox 992

“You bet.  I was a physics teacher and have been anticipating this event for a few years.  We snagged one of the last campsites in the Grand Island, Nebraska, KOA last fall.

We are making it a five week trip from New Hampshire to visit my brother in Denver then to see friends in Vail, Colorado, and on to hot Santa Fe before heading home through Branson, Missouri, and Kentucky.

The highlight will be the eclipse, but we have to stop and see something everyday on our trips.  We already have our eclipse glasses.  In fact, all our grandchildren got eclipse glasses for Christmas.

I wish we lived where the eclipse was coming.  We will have a partial eclipse in New Hampshire as will everyone in the US.” – Bob and Nina Devantery, 2016 GMC 3500, 2012 Lance 1050

“I will be at J. Percy Priest Lake in Tennessee at Seven Points Campground, sites 42 and 44 from August 17-22.  This campground rests on the eastern side of the lake with excellent viewing westward from the beach parking area as well as the boat ramp parking area.  It’s an excellent lake for boating, kayaking, and tubing.  I hope to have clear skies on the 21st of August 2017.” – Jeffry Sabol, 2012 Ford F350, 2006 Lance 1191

“I’ll be in the midwest in August starting a full-time journey and plan on being in Nebraska during the eclipse.  After 40 years in Alaska, I look forward to warm summer nights, starry skies, and the eclipse.” – Kevin Luppen, 2017 Ford F-550, 2016 Host Mammoth

“I’ll be camping with a group at Glendo State Park in Wyoming for the eclipse.  Our campsites were reserved a year ago, but we were recently asked to double up to make room for more people.  I’d bet there are no more spaces left.

The group organizer works at the National Solar Observatory at Sunspot and her family just happens to have a cabin at Glendo Lake.  I retired from the night-time observatory at Sunspot.  So, we have a bunch of astronomers of various kinds in our group and will be doing some public outreach in Glendo while we are there.” – Steph Snedden, 1999 Ford Ranger, 2008 Four Wheel Camper Eagle

“On the Oregon Coast in Nehalem Bay State Park, near Manzanita, Oregon.” – Marvin Awtry, 2000 GMC Sierra 2500, 2000 Lance 915

“I won’t be camping.  We live almost in the path of the eclipse.  I will be taking the day off to observe.” – Matt Wiegand, 2014 Ford F150, 2015 Palomino SS-1251

“I’m not sure at this time just where we will be going to see the eclipse.  It could be anyplace from Nashville, Tennessee to Madras, Oregon, to the Snake River Valley, Idaho.  We are retired and like to travel.  We like the northwest and Canada.

The only property that we have is in Tennessee about 50 miles south of Nashville.  We only have the lot the house is located on.  We could maybe support a few campers if needed.” – Bob Vea, 2003 Chevrolet 3500, 2003 Arctic Fox 1150

“We will be heading in the opposite direction.  The eclipse zone (around Salem, Oregon) is only 45 minutes south of our home, and huge crowds are expected.

All the state parks in the eclipse zone across Oregon were fully booked within twenty minutes of being made available.  They are saying there will be horrible traffic jams and nowhere to park in the eclipse zone.

It gets dark every night here, so I’ll just pretend it’s daytime and have a virtual eclipse.  It is not worth dealing with all those crowds just to see it get dark during the day.” – Vince Kurpan

“We will be camping near Casper, Wyoming which is right in the direct line view right before lunch.  We will be hanging out with people we worked with at the YCC camp 40 years ago.” – Bonnie Pascucci, 2011 Chevy 3500, 2012 Adventurer 86FB

“I’m undecided as of now, but somewhere in eastern Oregon or western Idaho.” – Vern Graham, 2007 GMC Sierra 3500HD, 2017 Arctic Fox 992

“We wouldn’t miss it for anything.  August is a very sunny month here in Idaho and we only live 50 miles from the eclipse path.  But just in case we do have rare clouds, our camper will be loaded and ready to go, even as far as Wyoming or Oregon.

We will start watching the weather forecast three days before the eclipse and head for wherever the skies are clearest.  Like your t-shirt says “Campground?  We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Campground”.” – Brian Hagen, 2004 Dodge Ram 2500, 2014 Palomino Backpack SS-1251

“We will be sitting in our yard about one hour southeast of St. Joe, Missouri.  However, we will be able to see our camper from there.” – Peggy Sego, 2005 Dodge 3500, 2011 Lance 992

“Jesse Honeyman State Park.” – Patrick Strange, 2012 Ram 1500, 1988 Bigfoot 5th Wheel

“Absolutely!  I will be out enjoying the Great American Eclipse.  In fact I will be engaged with assisting visitors visiting the national parks of the northwest corner of Wyoming as it passes this area on August 21st.  As a group of interpreters, we are excited with this prospect of having this area being the exact path of its transition of America.

My only suggestion is that campgrounds and lodging be reserved far in advance for this event.  If you are thinking of being in some of the areas that are projected for viewing, make those reservations early!” – Bryan Appleby, 2008 Ford F550, 2009 Lance 1191

“Wyoming, probably west of Casper.  Here’s the issue with this eclipse.  I predict it will be immensely popular.  Because it happens on a Monday, there could be impossible traffic jams on Sunday or Monday morning.

Consider Denver; a large population with one interstate path (I-25) to Wyoming.  Yikes.  It could easily become one large parking lot.

Normally takes just a few hours to drive to Casper, Wyoming and lots of folks will try to make the dash at the same time because there is no place to stay.  All accommodations have been booked for months.

I suspect many will take their truck campers, fifth wheels, trailers, pop-ups and flood the areas where they can park.  It probably won’t be much fun in the long run for Wyoming property owners or even on BLM lands.  What a price to pay for this bucket list event.” – Richard Johnson, 2004 Ford F350, 2007 Lance 1181

“In Tellico Plains, Tennessee.  It should be in the direct path of the eclipse. Sorry, only room for one truck camper.” – Rita Eshman, 2005 Ford F-250, 2013 Adventurer 86FB is a great site to get up to speed on the eclipse with info, maps, and store as TCM has posted.

Minimally, purchase the Eclipse Bulletin, Total Solar Eclipse of August 21 by Fred and Jay Anderson and Road Atlas of the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 by Fred Espenak.

Both authors have been providing this type of information for some time and are knowledgeable.  I relied heavily on them with my first solar eclipse in Baja, Mexico in 1991.  I recommend getting both books spiral bound for flat viewing.

Another book filled with good general information, but probably out of print, is: Totality Eclipses of the Sun, by Mark Littmannn and Ken Willcox; University of Hawaii Press; ISBN 0-8248-1371-5.

I’ve subscribed to Astronomy and Sky & Telescope magazines for articles on viewing and photography articles.

My strategy is that I plan to head for mid-Wyoming to western Nebraska plains, depending upon the weather predictions.  To me the western states have good North-South access, but little East-West high speed travel.

I plan to be totally mobile, so I purchased the Benchmark Oregon and Wyoming and the Nebraska DeLorme map books.  Along with the GPS, I hope to navigate the back roads as necessary to out run a random cloud formation. is the National Weather Service’s main site, and one can get a lot of information from it.  Also visit NOAA’s weather radio site, and program your scanners with the frequencies of interest to your destination.  I plan to use Ham radio to share location and weather info on route and make new friends before arrival.

I recently acquired a used Meade ETX-60AT entry level telescope which I’m still in the learning curve.  I plan to purchase a solar filter for it.  Also, I’m looking into an imaging camera so I can display the event on a laptop.

I have solar filters for a pair of binoculars for individual viewing.  Always use solar filters on the binoculars.  Don’t use the binoculars with the solar shades.

I’m thinking about dedicating a tripod mounted pocket camera to try to record video of the approaching shadow in the last few minutes before totality, along with the shadow bands, if present.  Audio will record nature’s quieting and the awe of the crowd.

I have been in eastern Wyoming several times, but would like to scout out the Nebraska end.  Being retired, I have the freedom to leave two to three weeks early and look it over.  I have not and don’t plan to make camping reservations.  I’ll review the past TCM articles on parking incognito.  My preferred camping is out and away from the campgrounds.  With five months to go, the big question is, “Where are you going to be on August 21st?” – Jim Longthorne, 2005, GMC Sierra 2500, 2005 Four Wheel Camper Grandby

“Fortuitously (had to look it up), I usually visit my cousin in Dillon, Montana the last two weeks in August.  The path of totality is between Idaho Falls, Idaho and Dillon.  I don’t know if I’ll camp in the area, but I’ll make sure to pull off I-15 for the big event.” – Ralph Goff (aka Ramblin’ Ralph), 2006 GMC 2500HD, 2001 Lance 845

“At home in Dubois, Wyoming.  We have five couples coming to view the eclipse.  One is using our camper for the weekend.” – Mark Harrison, 2005 Dodge 2500, 2017 Northern Lite 10.2 EXCD

“I live just 30 miles north of the direct path, but seeing it in the Nebraska Sandhills would be an awesome place, since that is one of the most desolate places in the USA.” – Stan Johnson, 2009 GMC 2500, 2009 Northstar Laredo

“I have family in Bend.  We plan to stay there and drive up early on the 21st to find a wide spot on the road to view the event.” – Roger Murphy, 2013 Chevy 2500HD, 2012 Adventurer 86FB

“Yes!  We are going to stay at Jack Rabbit Campground near Brasstown, North Carolina.  It is on a lake that should provide great unobstructed views.  It is also right in the path of the total eclipse.  We thought about going up to Smoky Mountain National Park at Clingman Dome, but figured it will be overwhelmed since they are hosting a special event for the eclipse.” – David Kiel, 2007 Toyota Tundra, 2012 Phoenix Custom

“I am planning on being in Wyoming.” – Carl Ragland, 1992 Sportsmen Camper


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