2017 Solar Eclipse in Yellowstone Country

2017 Solar Eclipse in Yellowstone Country

WEST YELLOWSTONE, MT – The last time a total solar eclipse was visible across the entire contiguous United States was during the June 8, 1918 eclipse, and not since the February 1979 eclipse has a total eclipse been visible from anywhere in the mainland United States. On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will make a path across the U.S. A narrow path, called the path of totality, will completely obscure the sun along a route that crosses the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina.

Hotels, campgrounds, RV parks and many other sites have been completely booked along the path of totality for months, or years in anticipation of the eclipse. This path will also pass through 28 national forests and grasslands.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks any part of the sun. On Monday, August 21, 2017, a solar eclipse will be visible (weather permitting) across all of North America. The whole continent will experience a partial eclipse lasting 2 to 3 hours. Halfway through the event, anyone within a roughly 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina (https://go.nasa.gov/2pC0lhe) will experience a brief total eclipse, when the moon completely blocks the sun’s bright face for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds, turning day into night and making visible the otherwise hidden solar corona — the sun’s outer atmosphere — one of nature’s most awesome sights. Bright stars and planets will become visible as well.

Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (“totality”), when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality (https://go.nasa.gov/2pC0lhe).

The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun.

Expect traffic delays around August 21

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY –Visitation to Yellowstone National Park in the days before, during, and after the solar eclipse on August 21 is anticipated to be heavier than usual.

Park roads and facilities may be overwhelmed by this large influx of visitors who are here to see the eclipse. Yellowstone does not recommend traveling in and out of the South Entrance on August 21. That entrance borders Grand Teton National Park and the center-line of the solar eclipse will pass over that park, placing it in the path of totality. August 21 is anticipated to be the busiest day in the history of Grand Teton National Park.

In Yellowstone, the partial eclipse will occur between 10:15 a.m. and 1 p.m. The eclipse will “peak” around 11:36 a.m. for a little over two minutes.


  • Pack your patience. Extra patrols will be out from Highway Patrol, National Parks, US Forest Service, and local authorities in Idaho and Montana.
  • Expect traffic delays on highways and roads inside and outside Yellowstone Park
  • Give yourself plenty (EXTRA) of time to travel to and from your destination
  • Arrive with enough food, water, and fuel in your vehicle for the entire day
  • Do not park on the roadway, shoulder or grass areas – use official pull outs, parking lots, etc.
  • If you are involved in an accident, move your vehicle off of the road and contact authorities
  • Get up-to-date road condition for Yellowstone Park by phone at (307) 344-2117 and online at https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/parkroads.htm
  • Do not expect to have cell phone service, even in areas where it is normally available
  • Internet service will most likely go down as well from lack of bandwidth
  • Bring appropriate eclipse viewing glasses  available at several locations in West Yellowstone and inside Yellowstone at park lodges, general stores, and bookstores; and solar filters for cameras, binoculars, or telescopes.

If you are on National Forest Land (which surrounds West Yellowstone on 3 sides):

  • Be aware of weather and fire conditions. August is one of the hottest and driest months, making it high fire season. Fires can start quickly, spread fast and be terribly destructive and sometimes unpredictable.
  • Only park in designated areas. Most roads on national forests and grasslands are working roads, which means at any time large vehicles will need a clear path for wildfires or search and rescue.
  • If you are camping food storage restrictions are in place.
  • PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT – Do Not Leave Trash Or Debris Of Any Kind. LEAVE NO TRACE.
  • Drones are not allowed over Yellowstone National Park or US Forest Service land in the area around West Yellowstone (restricted due to Yellowstone Airport)


  • During totality (the period of about 2-1/2 minutes when the sun is completely blocked by the moon), it is safe to look directly at the eclipse. The problem is this: you won’t know if it’s totality unless you look!
    • Any time before or after totality, when any portion of the sun is visible, looking directly at the eclipse can cause eye damage.
  • The safest way to view the eclipse is by an indirect method:
    • The pinhole technique: put a pinhole in a piece of card stock. Hold the paper in the sun. Project the pinhole of light passing through the card onto a second card about 3 feet away.
    • The mirror technique: Use a small, flat mirror (or a mirror covered except for a circle about W diameter) to reflect sunlight on a nearby wall or object. The shape of the reflection will mimic the shape of the sun
  • Special eye protection goggles may allow for safe viewing. Disposable “eclipse glasses” are widely available, but their efficacy has not been fully tested. If you use eclipse glasses or any other handheld viewing device, make sure it is rated as having an optical density (OD) of at least 5. Look for evidence that they’re certified to meet the ISO 123 12‑2 international standard for safe direct viewing of the Sun. Commercial welder’s glasses shade 14 or darker are felt to provide sufficient protection.
  • If your eyes hurt or your vision changes, stop looking at the eclipse Any additional viewing will lead to accumulating damage.


  • DO NOT look directly at the sun when ANY part of it is visible, even a sliver. – DO NOT look at the sun repeatedly, even for a split second.
  • DO NOT look at the sun through makeshift filters, such as exposed film, CDs, sunglasses, smoked glass, or looking directly at the sun’s reflection on water (the latter was the preferred technique of the ancient Greeks).
  • DO NOT look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device. Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury. Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device.
  • DO NOT look at the sun through a camera, smartphone, or any other device without a proper solar filter (ISO 12312-2 certified).

If you think you’ve damaged your eyes by looking at the sun

– STOP looking directly at the sun.

– Go indoors, preferably into a dark room.

– Rest your eyes.

– Follow up later with an eye specialist. Testing can be done to determine the

extent of damage, but there is no effective medical treatment for solar retinopathy at this time.

Click here to see Eclipse Blindness FAQ. (PDF)

NASA will be live streaming the eclipse August 21, 2017 –
12pm – 4pm EST

(REMINDER: Most likely cell and internet service will be interrupted due to high volume of use)

On the day of the eclipse go to www.nasa.gov/eclipselive,  where you will be directed by default to the NASA TV broadcast. The broadcast will connect with many of the NASA broadcasts distributed across the country.

Links for Ways to Watch:



  • US Forest Service, Yellowstone National Park, NASA, Idaho and Montana Highway Patrol