Help me watch Eclipse 2017 near Portland OR
April 3, 2017 9:47 AM   Subscribe

My family wants to see the 2017 eclipse. I'd ideally like to be within a reasonable drive of Portland OR (specifically Hillsboro) for the weekend of Aug 19-20. Help me figure out how?

The ideal scenario would be: fly to an airport (PDX?) on Saturday or Sun.

Spend Sat and/or Sun playing with the family kids - either by driving to their house in Hillsboro, OR, having them come visit us where we're staying, if we are somewhere with any sort of amenity for kids - either an outdoor place to hike in, or a kids museum, or anything at all where it would be reasonable to hang out with a ~8month and ~3year old. The point is that we could either stay somewhere where we can drive to Hillsboro, or have them come to us if the location is decent.

On Monday 8/21, we want to be directly on the path of the eclipse, which includes places like Dallas and Salem. I am told that the beach itself isn't a great bet because it could be socked in by fog.

Fly home Monday evening 8/21.

Can someone who knows Oregon comment on where I ought to try to stay, that is on that eclipse path and is within a reasonable drive of Hillsboro? There appears to be no hotel availability in Salem or Dallas for those nights. I don't know what other communities I ought to ideally look at. Thanks!!
posted by fingersandtoes to Travel & Transportation around Oregon (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Albany and Corvallis are both decent-sized towns, are in the path of the eclipse and are about a 1.5-2 hour drive from Hillsboro.
posted by Automocar at 10:02 AM on April 3, 2017

no hotels available in Albany and Corvallis either. Are there smaller towns that might be like near nice state or county parks or something like that?
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:10 AM on April 3, 2017

Roseburg would be a good place. Great camping location.
posted by parmanparman at 10:15 AM on April 3, 2017

Respectfully, there is extremely little chance of a hotel available in any town on the eclipse path in Oregon. At all. They were booked months ago. Small towns, large towns, whatever, it doesn't matter, all the hotels are booked. You can try a few things:
- Staying farther away and driving into the path early Monday morning
- Looking for campgrounds (though anything that allows/requires reservations is probably booked solid too, and you would need to get anywhere that doesn't at least several nights early) or something similar.
- Airbnb and equivalents - you might get lucky there.

But if you're looking for a hotel in a town in the path of the eclipse, you are almost certainly out of luck.
posted by brainmouse at 10:19 AM on April 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

It will be very difficult/impossible to find accommodation anywhere on the eclipse route. For example, I just checked Detroit, OR, year-round population 200 but with access to a lake and state parks, and they are completely booked up on VRBO. They have limited availability on AirB&B for 1-2 guests and nothing for families.
posted by muddgirl at 10:21 AM on April 3, 2017

Fair enough. Ok. So say I stay in Portland or Hillsboro, not on the path but not so far away. What would you do about driving into the path with the family? I know that's a very broad question but are there highways that you'd expect to be better or worse, places that are typically less foggy, less forested? Should I just drive down towards Salem and pull off at a diner with a parking lot?
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:34 AM on April 3, 2017

If you intend to be driving to the airport the day of the eclipse, be prepared for an enormous, persistent traffic jam everywhere, and don't expect to drive very far, very fast. Perhaps better to leave the day afterwards.

Have you tried to book those airline reservations? That might be your gating factor, so go ahead and check to see if they're even possible on the dates you describe.

The Oregon Park system is accommodating the enormous demand quite soon, with delayed release of some reservations, and an auction.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:49 AM on April 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

If you're looking at driving in from further away, this map might be potentially helpful. Obviously, you should take it with a very large grain of salt for traffic conditions on the actual day, which I suspect is why the author doesn't seem to have posted it on
posted by zamboni at 11:02 AM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

You want to be in the rain shadow of the Cascades. All the eclipse resources will recommend that you plan to arrive the evening before and not plan to leave until well after.
posted by wnissen at 11:11 AM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I live in Portland so my plan is to get up at the crack of dawn (or even earlier?) and drive to a small town in the path of totality with a public park and just chill for a bit. I suspect I may end up simply seeing the partial from home. (
posted by vespabelle at 4:25 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you are up for camping, I discovered today that a tulip farm in Woodburn is renting out camping spaces Friday-Monday night that weekend. They have an itinerary with farm tours, dinners, and entertainment. Woodburn is about a 45 minute drive south of Hillsboro.
posted by terooot at 7:59 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

So, we live in Portland and I wanted to nth that all hotels in the direct path are sold out, and all camp sites where you could reserve are reserved already. Our plan is similar to what vespabelle said above - we are going to get up super early or just drive into the path at like 2am and hang out in our car. I spoke to an Oregon state park rep at one point because we were trying to get a campsite and the lady told me that they are planning for a total traffic shut down. As in - so many cars that it's just a parking lot on the roads. She said they are expecting literally millions of people coming into the state to see this eclipse. It's going to be a clusterfuck no matter how you plan.
posted by FireFountain at 10:39 PM on April 3, 2017

The Stoller winery near Dundee has a "Solar Eclipse Overnight Experience" event nicely arranged, with camping, dinner, breakfast, and maybe some wine. See
posted by megatherium at 2:24 AM on April 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you are still planning, the Oregon Parks Dept. is opening an additional 1,000 camping spaces for that weekend. Reservations open this coming Wednesday morning.
posted by terooot at 4:06 PM on April 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

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