Do I really need to pay to look at the sky during the eclipse?
August 12, 2017 11:31 AM   Subscribe

I am planning to be in Nebraska or Missouri for the eclipse. There are a number of places I could go that have festivals, fields you can pay to park in, etc. What are the chances of just randomly finding a place off a rural road where I can park, throw my camping chair on the nearby grass, pop open the cooler, and enjoy the day in peace away from people and traffic?

I've read this and a few other Previouslies but have a few snowflake questions.

I know I'm not going to avoid both people and traffic 100%, but I'm trying to minimize exposure as I hate both and they can be stressful for me. Nebraska and Missouri both have vast expanses of nothingness, so I'm hoping I can take advantage of this. My plan is to arrive probably in Omaha on Sunday (or possibly Saturday, if I can find something to do) where cheap hotels still appear plentiful. The leave early Monday morning (as early as 3-4 am if needed) to drive to wherever, depending on the day's weather forecast. Willing to drive up to 3-4 hours to get there.

What are my odds that if I took off west or south from Omaha, I'd find a turnoff, park, or other non-tresspassy spot off the beaten path without encountering too much of the expected hullabaloo? I keep reading stories of expected mayhem in places like Oregon and southern Illinois where, granted, populations are higher, but it's not going to be bad in the middle of nowhere, an hour or more from the closest sizable city, right? Am I setting myself up for more stress than the eclipse is worth no matter where I go?

Thanks everyone!
posted by SquidLips to Travel & Transportation around Nebraska (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This website lists all the Nebraska State parks that are in the path of the eclipse. If you don't want to pay the park fee, you could easily get out your lawn chair and sit on the river bank just outside one of them. The website specifically suggests that unless there is widespread cloudy weather, Highway 385 in the vicinity of Alliance, Nebraska would be a good choice with uncrowded roads, proximity to maximum eclipse duration, and favored weather odds.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 12:23 PM on August 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Unless you are standing under a tree or on the north side of a building you will be able to see the eclipse (assuming there are no clouds in the way) from pretty much everywhere where it is occurring. In addition to the state parks, every little town has a park of some sort and likely has one or more cemeteries that probably has a few shade trees and even fewer (living) people.

There is a Nebraska Eclipse website listing events as does the state tourism site. Bill Nye will be in Beatrice, so expect big crowds there. Pawnee County is advertising viewing packages, so there might be crowds there as well.

On the other hand it looks like Tecumseh is having a very local,low-key, event as is Auburn (the director of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce would be happy to have a few people stop in Auburn as they are headed elsewhere to view the eclipse!). Both of those towns are 1-2 hours drive from Omaha.
posted by plastic_animals at 3:02 PM on August 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm starting off in Omaha that day, too, and will be spending the eclipse in York, NE. You could probably try Greenwood cemetery on the edge of town for someplace quiet.

Otherwise, I can put you in touch with my father-in-law. He's been scouting locations for weeks around Omaha also with the primary goal of avoiding crowds. If you mefi-mail me I can put you in touch via email.
posted by Alison at 6:29 PM on August 12, 2017

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