Plan ahead or you might miss out

Up to 600,000 peo­ple may head to Wy­oming

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Libby Rainey

Coloradans hop­ing to catch the Aug. 21 so­lar eclipse at the last minute shouldn’t count on catch­ing the mo­ment when the sun is blacked out by the moon.

With­out a strat­egy to view the once-in-a-life­time spec­ta­cle, they may find them­selves stuck in bumper-to-bumper traf­fic on In­ter­state 25 in­stead.

When the sky dark­ens dur­ing the much-an­tic­i­pated event, it will be the well­pre­pared who get to en­joy its splen­dor.

Among the key tips: leave early, pack ex­tra sup­plies and ar­range a place to stay ahead of time. Oth­er­wise, risk fac­ing bumper-to-bumper traf­fic and over­crowded camp­sites at ev­ery turn.

Some are pre­dict­ing that up to 600,000 peo­ple will travel to Wy­oming (2016 pop­u­la­tion: 585,501), hop­ing to squeeze into the 67-milewide swath of dark­ness — known as the path of to­tal­ity — that will cut across the state that morn­ing, ac­cord­ing to the Colorado De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion.

About two-thirds of those vis­i­tors are ex­pected to flood into Wy­oming from the south, putting an in­cred­i­ble stress on roads such as I-25, which usu­ally car­ries about 83,000 ve­hi­cles per day, CDOT spokesman Jared Fiel said.

“We are fully plan­ning for it to be pretty bad. The ear­lier you can get up there, the bet­ter, be­cause we re­ally don’t know what’s go­ing to hap­pen,” Fiel said.

CDOT is en­cour­ag­ing eclipse en­thu­si­asts to pro­ceed with cau­tion as they plan their jour­ney to Wy­oming or Ne­braska to be in the path of to­tal­ity.

Of­fi­cials sug­gest peo­ple pack ex­tra food and wa­ter, and to get a cell­phone up- date by tex­ting the word “ECLIPSE” to 888777.

The path of to­tal­ity takes up nearly 3 mil­lion acres of pub­lic land in Wy­oming, Bu­reau of Land Man­age­ment spokes­woman Cindy Wertz said.

With camp­sites in Wy­oming and across the coun­try booked, BLM is ex­pect­ing an in­flux of peo­ple to pub­lic land, where they can pitch tents where they like.

Any­one plan­ning to camp on pub­lic land should pick up a land-sta­tus map, to be sure you don’t veer onto pri­vate prop­erty. They can be ac­quired at a lo­cal BLM of­fice, Wertz said.

Traf­fic and find­ing a per­fect camp­site aren’t the only in­con­ve­niences in the run-up to the eclipse. Cell­phone ser­vice also may be hard to come by.

“Cer­tainly the cell tow­ers in Wy­oming weren’t meant to han­dle that sit­u­a­tion,” CDOT’S Fiel said, sug­gest­ing trav­el­ers bring walki­etalkies.

AT&T is de­ploy­ing two cell tow­ers on wheels in Wy­oming to boost net­work ca­pac­ity, spokes­woman Suzanne Tran­tow said.

The mo­bile cell tow­ers, which pro­vide ex­tra cov­er­age dur­ing large events, will be placed at Glendo Reser­voir, near I-25 south­east of Casper, and at the Te­ton County Fair­grounds in Jack­son, on the west side of the state. AT&T also has added net­work ca­pac­ity in Jack­son and Casper in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the eclipse.

“Ev­ery­one is go­ing to look to snap, stream and share pho­tos,” Tran­tow said. “We ex­pect our cus­tomers to be able to use our phones as they do on the av­er­age day.”

View­ers should be sure to bring eclipse glasses to pro­tect their eyes while en­joy­ing the spec­ta­cle.

NASA posted a list of rep­utable ven­dors of the eclipse glasses at eclipse2017.nasa.gov. Get a pair that has been verified by an ac­cred­ited test­ing lab­o­ra­tory to meet ISO safety stan­dards.

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