August 21 marks the “sight of a lifetime,” a full solar eclipse that can be seen across North America. This solar eclipse is special because it will reach totality, which is when the sun is fully covered by the moon. The catch is…totality can only be viewed across a 60-70 mile radius. While Colorado isn’t in the direct line of totality, nearby states are. Whether you decide to travel to see the full coverage of the sun or stay in Denver to see partial coverage, the sight will be breathtaking. We have a few tips and tricks for your solar eclipse viewing experience.
If you decide to travel…
Seeing the eclipse at totality is worth the travel. This incredible sight is awe-inspiring, tear-inducing, and maybe even life-changing. We can’t stress it enough, though, plan ahead. All Denverites (should at this point) know how rough I-25 and I-70 get during rush hour, and traffic on these main routes will be infinitely worse the day of the eclipse. Give yourself double or even triple the amount of anticipated drive time and be prepared to sit in some peak ski-season-esque traffic. Good tunes, podcasts, or breaking out the old road tripping games can help make this part of the adventure more enjoyable.
Wyoming and Nebraska are the closest spots for viewing the eclipse at totality. You may still be able to get a hotel room, but most have been booked out for weeks and any openings are going for record-high prices. Camping or driving in day-of (don’t forget about the traffic) may be your best bet for this solar eclipse. Here are the closest places to view the eclipse at totality.
Where: Wheatland, Wyoming
Distance from Denver Metro Area: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Extra Info: You’ll get approximately 51 seconds of totality
Where: Scottsbluff, Nebraska
Distance from Denver Metro Area: 3 hours and 15 minutes
Extra Info: Scotts Bluff National Monument is a convenient and absolutely gorgeous place for eclipse viewing
Where: Glendo, Wyoming
Distance from Denver Metro Area: 3 hours and 15 minutes
Extra Info: Head to Glendo State Park for best viewing opportunities
Where: Alliance, Nebraska
Distance from Denver Metro Area: 4 hours
Extra Info: Go to Carhenge for the viewing, you’ll get to see the eclipse plus a car version of Stonehenge, definitely a win-win
Wyoming and Nebraska are your closest options for full eclipse viewing. But NASA has an interactive map of all the other places you can visit to see this breathtaking phenomenon. To receive text updates on the eclipse, simply text the word “ECLIPSE” to 888777.
Since travel isn’t for everyone…
Work schedule, finances, mobility, and other factors mean travel isn’t accessible to everyone. Never fear! There are numerous opportunities to see partial coverage here in Denver, and while the partial eclipse may not induce as many tears as the eclipse at totality, it still promises to be incredible and awe-inspiring.
A number of places in Colorado are hosting viewing parties, complete with fun events, food and drink specials, exhibits, and more to celebrate the event.
In the Mountains:
Vail’s Walking Mountains Science Center will be hosting a free viewing at the Westin Riverfront & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. They will be providing free admission and solar filter glasses for the viewing!
A-Basin is opening up the base of the mountain for eclipse viewing. You can hike up the mountain, or take advantage of free chairlift rides! Don’t forget to bring a pair of glasses with you.
In Colorado Springs, the Space Foundation Discovery Center is having an entire party to celebrate the solar eclipse! The party is included in the $10 price of general admission. Bring a pair of glasses just incase they run low.
Local Denver Spots:
Most local libraries are hosting viewing parties and providing free glasses while supplies last. Many locations will also be offering education and eclipse programming.
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science will also be holding an eclipse party from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., free with general admission ($16.95/adult). They will be providing special programming in addition to the solar eclipse viewing. Glasses will be provided first-come, first-serve and when supplies run out additional pairs can be purchased in the gift shop.
Blue Moon RiNo will be hosting an eclipse party, partnering with radio station Alice 105.9 to bring brews and tunes to an already magical experience. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. with complimentary glasses plus enticing food and drink specials.
Declaration Brewing Company is also hosting a solar eclipse viewing party from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and you really can’t beat Declaration’s amazing brews plus a spectacular space event! Declaration promises souvenir beer glasses, drink specials, yard games, and food trucks to make the party unforgettable.
The suburbs aren’t letting Denver have all the fun. Tavern Littleton is partnering with Historic Downtown Littleton to host an epic eclipse viewing party. Festivities go from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with free viewing glasses and food and drink specialties. The Arapahoe Community College Astronomy Department will be in attendance offering programming and eclipse expertise.
About those glasses…
We’ve mentioned solar filter glasses a few times. These are an absolute must for safely viewing the solar eclipse. NASA’s safety tips make it clear that regular sunglasses, no matter how dark, will not suffice. Staring directly at the sun can cause eye damage. Check out this list for recommended places to access safe solar eclipse viewing glasses and filters. If you are in a location to view totality, be sure to take your glasses off at the point of totality for the full breathtaking effect of the eclipse.
If you missed it…
Never fear! Another eclipse is estimated to happen in 2024 and 2045’s solar eclipse will happen directly over Colorado. There is also an eclipse simulator and this virtual experience from CNN that gives you a glimpse at the full experience.
Did you see the eclipse? Share your stories, reactions, and photos with us on our Facebook page!