Help me see the eclipse in and/or near Columbia, South Carolina!
August 9, 2017 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Driving down Monday morning from Charlotte into the PATH OF TOTALITY, and don't have a real plan. Want to avoid as much traffic as possible, and make sure we have a clear viewing site. Could be a field or a parking lot. Send me your suggestions!

This is a quick jaunt from NYC with my guy to get down to the path of totality. We are PUMPED! We're staying with friends in Charlotte the night before and want to drive down towards Columbia, SC to view the eclipse. I say towards, and not necessarily in, because everyone is predicting crazy traffic and Columbia is an obvious place to go. We don't care about where; we just care about viewing.

I thought of finding tiny towns outside of Columbia and an easy drive to from Charlotte (Carlisle? Whitmire? Clinton? Newberry?), and also parks (of which many have private events and are expecting aforementioned crazy traffic), but then I just thought I'd ask Metafilter!

If you were me, where would you head to view the eclipse? I don't care if it's a field, a side of a country road with an open viewing space, a parking lot, whatever. I'd just want a place with as few people as possible, a clear sightline (not a lot of trees or buildings blocking our view) and where we won't get in trouble for parking a car (and won't get stuck in lots of traffic or anything). What do you suggest?

Thanks in advance!
posted by knownassociate to Science & Nature (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm also in Charlotte, and I'm not planning on going anywhere either. The local news and weather guys are talking about the roads (interstates and secondaries) being absolute madness between here and Columbia, and here and Greenville. We are estimated to get 98.2% coverage, which is good enough for me.

That said, if I were going to do this I'd probably drive south on US 321 from Gastonia and then cut west on SC 34 toward Newberry, which is a very cute little town. No idea what is planned there. Or, I'd take US 521 (Johnston Rd) to US 601 and head toward Sumter.

Interested to read what others recommend!
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:03 AM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

There's a BMW factory and museum near Greer, at 85 and 101. That should be pretty open, though it's toward the northern end.

Clemson starts classes on the 23rd, so you'll have everyone moving in that weekend. But they have a big time football program, so they should be equipped to handle a bunch of people.

I mean, really, just find a Waffle House at the side of the highway and hang out there. Failing that, a Walmart parking lot. (Note: in some SEC towns, people will bring their RV's into town starting Wednesday for a Saturday game, often parking at Walmart for a couple of days.)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:24 AM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

(In case anyone is wondering, the "also" and "either" in my comment above refer to a now-deleted comment about the anticipated traffic chaos in these parts.)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:30 AM on August 9, 2017

Clemson's eclipse page. They are estimating that worst-case, it'll be like (football) game day traffic, which is something they deal with 6 or 7 times a fall anyway.

(They are also casting some serious shade at Columbia. Intrastate rivalries are strong.)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:37 AM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

look at these crowd estimates (and that's with a "high probability" of 2% !

Based on this, I'd head toward Greenwood, at 4am.
posted by at at 9:23 AM on August 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is happening near Winnsboro, SC, about half an hour north of Columbia, on Lake Wateree. (C'mon, you gotta love any event that starts out "Meeting Place: Tackle Shop).
posted by jhope71 at 9:35 AM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

The good thing about an eclipse that takes place in the middle of the afternoon is that there's no bad place to see it. Think about the typical situation on a summer afternoon: you can't find shade to save your life, right? Well, during the eclipse you want the sunny patches which is basically everywhere unless there are clouds or you are in the deep woods. The only two real recommendations I have are: 1. Go for totality. A deep partial is really neat but not the same thing at all, I've been told. 2. Be prepared to call an audible and change your spot if the forecast is looking bad.
posted by wnissen at 10:38 AM on August 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

We are estimated to get 98.2% coverage, which is good enough for me.

Oh my god. No. The difference between even 99% and a total eclipse is like the difference between ... i don't know, porn and sex. Or watching a cooking show vs. eating. You've got 2, maybe 3 chances for this in your life. Drive the extra few miles.
posted by dmd at 5:05 PM on August 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

I work on Huger St. I'll be taking my kids to work and hanging out behind the office. If you want to brave the Vista traffic, I may be able to get you into our lot.
posted by Talia Devane at 7:39 PM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hey team, just following up -- we drove with zero traffic starting at 9am from Charlotte, down on back roads all the way to the path of totality near Clinton, SC, and stopped at the side of the road at an open field. We parked our car and popped open some beers, and were joined within a few hours by about 7 locals who thought our spot was stellar. We all saw it together, and it was INCREDIBLE.

Thank you for all of your input, and especially to Talia Devane for the offer of getting into the lot in Columbia. (and hope Sweetie Darling made it down!)

Hope it was awesome for all of you!
posted by knownassociate at 9:06 AM on August 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Aw, knownassociate, how sweet to be thought of. So glad you got the full experience! We ended up staying in town and had an enjoyable enough backyard experience, but I will say that dmd was completely right about 98.2% not being life-changing (although I really loved the crescent-shaped shadows). We'll plan better for 2024!
posted by Sweetie Darling at 2:28 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older Credit Union > Bank   |   Old rucksack with disintegrating waterproofing Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.