Where to See the Total Solar Eclipse

August 21 will feature a spectacle many of us haven’t seen for 26 years: a total solar eclipse. This eclipse is special in that it will pass over the United States from coast to coast, which hasn’t happened in nearly a century.

The eclipse has become attraction all on its own, as onlookers have been planning their lookout spots for months. Viewing options are quite limited, as the eclipse will streak across the United States starting from Oregon in the morning before exiting through South Carolina in the early afternoon.

Whether you’re traveling through Vacation Quest or on your own, here’s a look at where the best spots are, according to eclipse2017.org:

Where to See the Total Solar Eclipse

Photo credit: Michael Zeiler, GreatAmericanEclipse.com.

There are a few things to remember when it comes to the eclipse:

  • Relatively speaking, few areas will offer a view of the eclipse (it’s basically a straight line through the US).
  • Cities that do offer a view may be packed, so plan accordingly.
  • Totality will only last up to around 2:30 in certain areas, so you’ve got to be quick.


The eclipse will enter the United States around 10:15 in the morning in Oregon. The path will travel across the upper third of the state, with areas near Newport, Madras, Salem and Ontario giving views of totality.


The best views are in Idaho’s lower side – Stanley, Rexburg and Victor with superb totality. If you’re in Ketchum or Boise, head north or you’ll miss out.


No total eclipse for Yellowstone National Park, but Grand Teton National Park’s southern portion is a fantastic spot to stargaze, with 2:20 of totality at around 11:35 a.m. It’ll continue down diagonally through the city’s center, passing over Pavilion, Casper and Douglas.


Nebraska gets a lot of eclipse time (468 miles!), as it soars above dozens of larger cities while hitting much of the prairie. Alliance, Hastings and Grand Island provide more than two minutes of totality. The same goes for Beatrice, which is just south of Lincoln, so we imagine the area will be quite popular around lunchtime.


The state’s jagged northeast corner is all the totality Kansans will see without crossing into Missouri. Troy will have the best views. Those in the Kansas City area might be out of luck on the Kansas side, but luckily Missouri just a short drive away.


Missouri has the most populated points to see the eclipse out of any state. Having Kansas City and St. Louis both in the path is a tremendous opportunity for onlookers in the Show-Me State. St. Joseph, Liberty and Excelsior Springs will yield the most totality.


Unfortunately, Chicago residents will have to travel pretty far south to see the total eclipse – Waterloo, Carbondale and Marion are around your best bet. Other than that, the eclipse doesn’t spend much time here.


Another quick stop for the eclipse. No big cities of note here, so focus on Paducah, Eddyville, Hopkinsville, Franklin and Russellville.


A good chunk of Tennessee gets to see the total eclipse, even those in Nashville’s northern suburbs. You’ll find the longest totality in Clarksville, Springfield, Crossville, Dayton and more. Gatlinburg visitors will have to travel west or east (to North Carolina) for totality.


Like Kansas, there’s not much to see here unless you are in the northeastern tip around Clayton.

North Carolina

Only a slim section on the west will be in the eclipses’ path, but at least some of that will be in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

South Carolina

The eclipse closes out its US tour in South Carolina starting from the northwest and heading from Greenville, Greenwood, Sumter and Charleston. Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island visitors will have to meet in the middle for the total eclipse.

The eclipse also touches Montana and Iowa, but passes through small, unpopulated portions.

Protect Your Eyes!

Don’t look at the eclipse directly! That can cause permanent eye damage, so you’ll need the proper eyewear and protection:

This cosmic marvel doesn’t come along often, so we hope you can catch even a glimpse of the solar eclipse! Where do you plan on watching?

For more information and tips about the eclipse, visit NASA.gov.

Corey is a writer from Overland Park, KS, and has been with Vacation Quest since September. Once a sportswriter, he traveled the country and became proficient in airport security line etiquette and leaving items in hotel rooms.