On Monday, August 21, 2017, the moon will pass between the sun and Earth, casting a 170-mile arc of darkness across the continental United States from Oregon to South Carolina. This is not just another eclipse: Those in the “totality” zone will be plunged into night for several minutes as the moon reduces the sun to a crescent, then to a thin glowing ring. Stars will even appear in the dark sky.
How rare is this? It’s not an exaggeration to say that you’ve probably never experienced anything like it. The last total eclipse to darken more than a few US states happened in 1918.
This makes the “Great American eclipse” eminently road-trip worthy. You’ll be able to see at least a partial eclipse from many points in the US, but those who have experienced totality assure us that it’s worth it to get to the epicenter. Unfortunately, a lot of picturesque spots are already booked up—or asking for thousands of dollars a night. However, it’s a big country, and it’s still possible to snag someplace to spend the weekend in these prime locations.
To map out your own eclipse road trip, consult a map that shows the coast-to-coast arc or this list of local times. The mindblowing part of the eclipse when the sun is completely blocked, aka totality, will last two to three minutes. Don’t be late: The entire event will sweep across the United States in under fifteen minutes. Don’t forget your eclipse glasses.—Carrie Kirby