With two months to go until the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, local officials in Corvallis and Benton County are planning ahead to ensure that visitors and local community members alike will be able to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event in a safe and enjoyable setting. The eclipse is expected to begin locally around 9 a.m. Aug. 21, when the moon begins to move across the face of the sun. Corvallis and Benton County lie along the “path of totality” and will see about two minutes of total darkness at the peak of the eclipse around 10:16 a.m. Unlike many other areas along the eclipse path in the United States, the Willamette Valley has reliably clear and cloud-free weather in August, which should be a boon to eclipse viewers in the area.
What to Expect
Estimates suggest that as many as 400,000 people could come to the Willamette Valley for the eclipse. As a result, Corvallis and Benton County are planning for a predicted surge of visitors and traffic in the area. Out-of-town visitors are encouraged to arrive at least a day early to avoid last-minute traffic on local and state highways. Most area hotels have been booked for months, but various camping events remain available.
School grounds will be open for viewing the eclipse but school buildings will not be open to the public. There will be no athletic practices, registration activities, or school meetings the morning of the eclipse. No camping will be allowed on school district grounds.
Public safety officials in Corvallis and Benton County, along with colleagues at the state level, have been working for months to develop plans for the expected surge of visitors to the area. The challenge is compounded because August is peak fire season in the Willamette Valley. In addition, the event is expected to bring lots of out-of-town visitors who may not be aware of local laws in Corvallis and Benton County.
To help inform the public, local officials have created an extensive online resource portal focusing on safety during the eclipse. In addition to fire risk, local officials also point to potential traffic jams as thousands of motorists use city streets and rural highways in the area.
Officials recommend arriving early and staying put well past the official end of the eclipse to avoid clogging transportation routes. Officials stress that streets and highways must remain clear so first responders can move around the area without impediment.
Visit Corvallis, the local tourism bureau, maintains a comprehensive list of activities and events related to the eclipse. Here are a few highlights:
- Total Eclipse Experience at OSU – As part of its 150th anniversary festivities, Oregon State University will be hosting a fun, informative, family-friendly weekend to celebrate the eclipse. Packages that include on-campus lodging and meals are available. The three-day event will include an outdoor concert on Sunday, Aug. 20 on the Memorial Union quad. The entire community will be invited to a free viewing event on the quad on Aug. 21 to watch the eclipse.
- Total Eclipse Corvallis – A three-day camping event from Corvallis Parks and Recreation with live entertainment, kids activities and a beer garden provided by Block 15 Brewery and 2 Towns Ciderhouse.
- Adair County Park Camping – Benton County is offering affordable tent and RV campsites at Adair County Park and shuttles to Corvallis, located five miles south of Adair Village.
- Total Eclipse on Marys Peak – A mountaintop eclipse viewing experience hosted by Cascadia Expeditions and its partners. Space is limited.
- Eclipse Info Sessions at the Library – Twice a month leading up to the big day, the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library will host a free informational session on the eclipse, featuring astronomers from the Heart of the Valley Astronomers club. Each attendees will receive a free pair of eclipse viewing glasses. Due to high demand, tickets are required but can be obtained in person from the main library.
- Eclipse Camping at the Philomath Frolic and Rodeo – The annual rodeo event will offer 15 acres for tents, trailers and RVs of all sizes.
A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience
Local leaders in Corvallis and Benton County agree that the upcoming eclipse is an opportunity to take part in a remarkable astronomical experience. With a little prior planning, the entire community can expect a truly magical experience on Aug. 21.
Look for the #midvalleyeclipse hashtag on social media sites and stay updated with safety information, activities and more. Be sure to use the #midvalleyeclipse hashtag when sharing photos on social media.