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How to watch the 2017 eclipse from a US National Monument

Six US National Monuments in Oregon, Idaho, Nebraska and South Carolina will all experience Totality

With 230 million people about to make plans to see the Total Solar Eclipse on Monday 21, August 2017, it’s time to start planning your trip – and what better place to go than to a US National Monument? Here are the six US National Monuments where you can experience Totality from beneath the Moon-shadow.

For more, check out the 100 Best Places in the USA to Watch the Total Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017.


1 – Craters of The Moon National Monument, Idaho

43.42°N 113.52°W
Watching the Moon eclipse the Sun while standing on the Moon? Now that would be weird – and you can kinda do it on August 21, 2017. The Moon’s shadow just scratches the top of Idaho’s Craters of the Moon National Monument – which contains three lava fields along the Great Rift of Idaho – so only some of the 1,000 square miles of volcanic features and lava fields are suitable for eclipse-viewing. Just below Arco, Idaho, gets a little over a minute of Totality.

2 – John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

44.67°N 120.05°W
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument contains the Painted Hills, gloriously multicoloured badlands north of Mitchell, Oregon that famously glow at sunrise and sunset. The quality of light just before a Total Solar Eclipse is truly magical to witness, with shadows sharpening as the light drops; the 35 million years old stratified rocks of the Painted Hills may capture and reflect back the weird light just before Totality, which will go exactly overhead. Watching eclipse-photographers jostle for position should also be entertaining …

3 – Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Nebraska

42.416°N 103.728°W
For 2 minutes 23 seconds of Totality in solitude, head for the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in the valley of the Niobrara River. Likely to be a lonely location for eclipse-viewing, this area has Miocene mammal fossils that date back 20 million years ago. It’s mainly grass-covered plains, but its two hills – Carnegie Hill and University Hill – will make for great vantage points.

4 – Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska

41.83°N 103.70°W
For 1 minute and 59 seconds, Scotts Bluff National Monument about 45 miles south of the Agate Fossil Beds is an important landmark on the Oregon Trail and Mormon Trail. Another plains area, a prominent bluff called Scotts Bluff is 830ft up, so should make for another excellent vantage point for a big sky eclipse experience. There are five rock formations up here; Crown Rock, Dome Rock, Eagle Rock, Saddle Rock, and Sentinel Rock.

5 – Homestead National Monument of America, Nebraska

40.285°N 96.822°W
Yet another US National Monument in Nebraska, but this one is 450 miles further east. The center that commemorates passage of the Homestead Act of 1862 is planning a very special event to celebrate the 2 minutes 34 seconds of eclipse here. It will include a countdown to Eclipse Totality, and explanations of what to look, feel, and listen for as the shadow of the solar eclipse descends over Homestead.

6 – Fort Sumter National Monument, South Carolina

32.752°N 79.874°W
Just before the Moon shadow sweeps away from the USA into the Atlantic Ocean, it crosses Fort Sumter National Monument in Charleston, South Carolina, which is the last major city within the path of totality. As it does it will leave the memory of 1 minute 34 seconds of Totality from this coastal fortification in Charleston harbor, best known as the site of the first shots of the American Civil War were fired in 1861.

On Monday, August 21, 2017, the Moon’s shadow will take 90 minutes to race across the USA from coast-to-coast – Oregon to South Carolina – for the first time since 1918, giving a glimpse to anyone standing on or near the Path of Totality.

Photo credit: Travel Oregon