5 tips for an enjoyable solar eclipse experience on public lands

Tired of all the eclipse talk? I hear you. While many locals within the ‘path of totality’ have had their fill of eclipse related headlines of traffic headaches and water shortages, there is one more topic that deserves a spotlight. The case for public lands and the role they will play while viewing this once in a lifetime experience.

1. That’s not my beer can

We’ve all heard the mantra “pack it in, pack it out.” When visiting wild places, leave the place better than you found it. Take the extra time to pick up trash whether it’s yours or not. Take care of the places you love. Leave No Trace. Leave No Trace refers to a set of outdoor ethics promoting conversation in the outdoors. The seven “LNT” principles help minimize recreation related impacts and can be found at lnt.org

2. I can’t drive 55

Don’t listen to Sammy Hagar. With reports of more than one million visitors coming to Oregon surrounding the eclipse, there will no doubt be congestion and conflict. Heavy traffic is a sure thing; we’ve all heard the rumors. Traffic can be even more of an issue on single lane forest roads. Only drive on designated motor vehicle routes as cross-country travel is ecologically harmful and is not allowed across much of our public lands. In addition, take care to avoid parking your vehicle where your exhaust could come into contact with dry vegetation and start a fire. If you can, leave early and stay late. Get your driving done a day or two before the rush, and stay a day later to enjoy the scenery! Be sure to bring a spare tire, a roadside emergency kit, extra water, and extra gas. 

3. You do you

Self sufficiency is of the utmost importance. Get your shopping done beforehand, bring extra, and be prepared as limitations on food, water, gas, and cell coverage are likely. Most importantly, remember that Emergency Services will be in high demand, so take it easy, be careful and smart, and help each other out. Bring your first aid supplies and have an emergency plan, and always tell someone at home your travel plans in case something unexpected happens. 

4. Smokey the Bear will not be there

August is the height of fire season. Fires in central Oregon start easily and spread quickly. Currently campfires are banned on most public lands (even in campgrounds). Be careful with cookstoves and cigarettes. Think about how you would escape a wildfire. Keep an eye out for signs of fire in your area and think about evacuation routes and safety zones ahead of time. Carry a fire extinguisher, shovel and extra water. 

5. No vacancy

Most camping and lodging sites have been booked for months or more, so don’t show up without a reservation. If you plan to camp on public lands, have a few backup plans if your original spot is taken when you arrive. Double check with the Forest Service if you need a pass or a permit for your chosen location and know that certain designations have group size limits. 

Let’s work together to respect and protect the wild places we Oregonians cherish. 

And remember, our public lands do far more than just provide a great viewing location for the eclipse. They provide year round recreational opportunities for biking, trail running, hunting, fishing, hiking, rafting, and more. They provide a home for wildlife. They provide us with drinking water. Visitor use numbers to national parks, monuments, Wilderness areas and public land are breaking records every year without rare total solar eclipse events. Protecting wild places across our state will ensure Oregonians will enjoy and recreate in wild and pristine areas for generations to come.  

Have fun and be safe out there. Thank you for helping us take care and advocate for these truly treasured places.