For full coverage of the 2017 solar eclipse, head to 9news.com/eclipse!
The United States will get a rare treat on Aug. 21, 2017: the first total solar eclipse visible only in our country since June 1918.
You probably already know this – it’s been all over the place. And if you didn’t -- but now want to see it -- good luck finding a place to stay in the 12-state path of totality. Rooms are booked for miles, and the ones left are at a premium.
Camping’s an option too, but again, most of the sites are already booked and have been for a while.
The good news is that Colorado isn’t too far from multiple places that will have the best view of this solar event. Both Wyoming and Nebraska are doable in a day’s drive – especially if you’re cool with losing some sleep to witness something you won’t see very often in your lifetime.
A heads up though: transportation officials across the country say this could be one of biggest the traffic events in history, with 12 million people in the path of totality and 200 million people within a day’s drive of it. That means if you’re going to hop into your car to check out the eclipse, treat it like rush hour traffic – only instead of going to work, you get to see the moon pass between the Earth and the sun.
Here’s a look at some places within a day’s drive where you can check out the eclipse:
Distance from Denver: 293 miles (or four hours and 14 minutes without traffic)
Time of eclipse: 12:54 p.m. CT
Most of the time, this village in Logan County, Nebraska is only home to a few hundred people (305, if you use 2010 U.S. Census numbers).
But come August, thousands (including a few members of the 9NEWS team) will descend on these sleepy town in the Nebraska sandhills to watch something with a finale lasting only about two minutes.
For $10, folks get a pair of eclipse glasses, parking and a bottle of water to watch the main event at the Logan County Fairgrounds, with a big party slated for afterwards.
Getting there is as easy as taking Interstate 76 north from Denver to I-80, and then continuing east to North Platte before taking Highway 83 up to Stapleton.
Grand Island, Nebraska
Distance from Denver: 406 miles (or five hours and 45 minutes)
Time of eclipse: 1 p.m. CT
If your idea of a rad day trip involves hiking through a meadow, learning about booming birds of floating down a river in a stock tank (for the record, this is all lifted from Grand Island’s tourism website http://visitgrandisland.com/enjoy/), then you might want to make the longer drive further east on I-80 to Grand Island.
Like Stapleton, this prairie town offers pretty stunning views of the skyline for miles – but unlike the former, Grand Island has a few more amenities – including hotel rooms in the area.
To get here, take I-76 north from Denver to I-80, and keep going for a few hours.
Distance from Denver: 228 miles (3 hours and 35 minutes)
Time of eclipse: 11:45 a.m. MT
This town of around 6,120 people (as of the 2010 census) is the county seat of Converse County – and the home of the Wyoming State Fair, which means it has hosted its share of big events.
Another plus to heading here? In addition to the wide open spaces that will afford some cool views of the eclipse, it’s basically right off of I-25 – meaning you don’t have to deal with pesky things like … turning.
Just a heads up though: Wyoming State Patrol says parking will be prohibited on the highways, so don’t pull over during the big event.
There’s a Facebook page dedicated to some of the events in Douglas ahead of the eclipse: http://bit.ly/2tDy8W4
One cool tidbit? Proceeds from the eclipse glasses you buy from the Converse County Tourism and Visitor Center will go toward helping a local hockey club build an ice rink!
Distance from Denver: 183 miles (or about three hours)
Time of eclipse: 11:48 a.m. MT
This is another Wyoming town that’s going big for the solar eclipse.
Both the city’s park and airport are offering camping for the eclipse (if you’re cool with paying $60 for your spot), and it’s one of the closest locations to Denver in the path of totality.
Goshen County, where Torrington, Wyoming is located, is home to portions of the Oregon Trail, Mormon Trail, California and Texas Cattle Drive Trail.
It’s also around 30 minutes from Fort Laramie National Park – which is having its own special events in honor of the eclipse: http://bit.ly/2eOubLx
You can find a Facebook page dedicated to Torrington’s eclipse events here: http://bit.ly/2tDDFMd
As for getting to Torrington, take I-25 up to the US 85 exit in Ranchettes. You’ll stay on US 85 until you hit Torrington.
Of course, these aren’t the only day trips you can take from Colorado see the eclipse. Check out NASA’s handy maps which show which towns are in the path of totality and plot a trip for yourself!
You can see the maps here: https://go.nasa.gov/2rcZYtx