Fifteen Perfect Spots to Watch the Total Solar Eclipse as it Crosses the U.S. This Summer

One of the most exciting astronomical event in U.S. history is happening in August

Craters of the Moon State Park, Idaho
Watch the moon from this moonscape in Craters of the Moon State Park, Idaho. Publisher Mix/Getty Images

This story originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.

Where will you be on Aug. 21, 2017?

This is the first time a total solar eclipse has crossed the United States since 1978 (and the last really big one was in 1918), and the summer’s brief event—totality lasts about two minutes, depending on your location—is being touted as the largest astronomical event in U.S. history.

Whether or not that's true, it will definitely be the most photographed, most Instragrammed, most tweeted and most talked about eclipse ever. It’s critical to get yourself somewhere exactly under the shadow—and as nearest to the Line of Totality—as possible, since a near-miss is a total miss.

You should use Xavier Jubier's 2017 Total Eclipse Interactive Google Map to pinpoint your exact location, but in case you're looking for ideas, here are 15 unique places to watch this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Jamie Carter is the author of 100 Best Places In The USA To Watch the Total Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017 & USA Eclipse 2017 Travel Guide

Be the first under the shadow – Boiler Bay, Oregon

If you want to be among the first people in the U.S. to see the eclipse, this is the place. With plenty of parking at Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint it should be easy enough to stand on Government Point and watch the moon shadow rush towards the country.

Partial eclipse begins at 09:04 a.m. PDT, with Totality at 10:15 a.m. PDT for 1 minute, 58 seconds.

Get a capitol view — Salem, Oregon

Salem has much better prospects for clear weather than the Oregon coast, and is expecting thousands of people for its Solar Eclipse Viewing Party at the Salem Fairgrounds & Expo Center. However, the hot tickets are those for a tour of the Capitol's tower from 9:30-11:00 a.m. to experience Totality from on high.

Partial eclipse begins at 09:05 a.m. PDT with Totality at 10:17 a.m. PDT for 1 minute, 54 seconds.

Take a helicopter to a remote mountain eclipse camp – Madras, Oregon

Toast the celestial fluke that is this Total Solar Eclipse by taking a helicopter from Oregon SolarFest in Madras to a Champagne Eclipse Base Camp in the Cascade Mountains before downing Dom Perignon Champagne. Costs $5,999 for a group of six.

Partial eclipse begins at 09:06 a.m. PDT with Totality at 10:19 a.m. PDT for 1 minute, 58 seconds.

Watch the moon from the moon – Craters of the Moon State Park, Idaho

The strange volcanic features and cinder fields of the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Butte County, Idaho would make for the ideal place for an eclipse-watch. Get yourself to Arco, a town on the northern reaches of this area and just within the Moon shadow, for a little over than a minute of Totality.

Partial eclipse begins at 10:13 a.m. MDT with Totality at 11:31 a.m. for 1 minute, 38 seconds.

Be the only Montanan to witness totality – Italian Peak, Montana

Since the Moon shadow just shaves the southwestern border with Idaho, there is only one way to see the eclipse from within Montana; climb up to the Italian Peak in the Beaverhead Mountains. A wild and remote place, this is one for experienced backpackers only.

Partial eclipse begins at 09:14 a.m. MT with Totality at 10:32 a.m. MT for 49 seconds.

Watch an Arapaho ceremony to bring back the sun – Riverton, Wyoming

To celebrate the eclipse track dissecting the Wind River Indian Reservation, the Wind River Hotel and Casino will host a four-day Arapaho Eclipse Celebration. As well as a special Eclipse Slot Tournament on the casino floor there’s a special event in the car park where archers will fire arrows at the Moon to convince it to get out of the way of the Sun. The Moon will obey.

Partial eclipse begins at 10:19 a.m. MDT with Totality at 11:39 a.m. for lasts 2 minutes, 7 seconds

Watch the eclipse in solitude — Agate Fossil Beds, Nebraska

Grass-covered plains punctuated by Carnegie Hill and University Hill, the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument will provide an isolated location for eclipse-viewing. This is where the famous ‘devil's corkscrew' fossils were found that revealed the Miocene Monsters.

Partial eclipse begins at 10:25 a.m. MDT, with Totality at 11:47 a.m. for lasts 2 minutes, 23 seconds.

Fake a prehistoric eclipse – Carhenge, Nebraska

What could be better than witnessing an eclipse at Stonehenge in England? Sadly, that won’t happen until May 5 in the year 2600, but the next best thing is Carhenge Solar Eclipse 2017 near Alliance, Nebraska. Vintage American-made automobiles have been faking the prehistoric stone monument here since 1987.

Partial eclipse begins at 10:27 a.m. MDT with Totality at 11:49 a.m. for lasts 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

Watch NASA science in action – Grand Island, Nebraska

About an hour before the eclipse, two high-altitude weather balloons will be launched from the grounds of Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer. Part of the NASA Nebraska Space Grant Program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the balloons will reach 20 miles, and scientific equipment will stream video and transmit data while the balloons are in the air.

Partial eclipse begins at 10:34 a.m. MDT, with Totality at 11:58 a.m. for 2 minutes, 34 seconds.

Be the only Iowan to see the eclipse – Lower Hamburg Bend, Iowa

As with Montana, the Moon shadow will brush Iowa. That’s an understatement; there’s actually only one field where Totality can be viewed, and even then for a paltry 26 seconds. Should you travel further south? Almost certainly yes, but for committed Iowans after a lifelong boast, it’s all about being in the Lower Hamburg Bend Wildlife Management Area near Hamburg.

Partial eclipse begins at 11:38 a.m. CT with Totality at 13:05 p.m. CT  for 26 seconds.

Alight for a railroad eclipse – Jefferson City, Missouri

As the twice-daily Amtrak Missouri River Runner runs the 238 miles from St. Louis to Kansas City it travels completely within the confines of the 70-mile wide Total Solar Eclipse track. It stops at eight stations intersecting the Line of Totality at Jefferson City. Ride the rails to 'America’s Most Beautiful Small Town' the day before and you can spend the big day in the 60-acre Ellis-Porter Riverside Park adjacent to the Missouri River.

Partial eclipse begins at 11:46 a.m. CDT with Totality at 13:13 p.m. CDT for 2 minutes, 29 seconds.

Rehearse for another eclipse In 2024 – Cedar Lake, Illinois

Once in a lifetime? Not quite; another Total Solar Eclipse will pass through the USA in 2024. The place where the 2017 and 2024 Lines of Totality cross is Cedar Lake, just south of Carbondale. Get yourself beside the lake for Totality in 2017 and you can return there in seven years to to do it all over again.

Appeal to a higher power – Bald Knob Cross Of Peace, Illinois

It’s just a fluke that the Sun and Moon appear to be of the same size from Earth’s point of view, and whose  apparent paths through our sky occasionally perfectly intersect, but there’s no denying the event's emotional power. Close to the Point of Greatest Duration is the Bald Knob Cross of Peace, where you can expect religious activities from one of the highest points in the area.

Partial eclipse begins at 10:25 a.m. MDT and Totality is at 11:47 a.m. for 2 minutes, 23 seconds.

Get eclipse-aware before the event – Nashville, Tennessee

The biggest city under the shadow, there’s bound to be a rush for hotels by those after a taste of a Music City Solar Eclipse, but before you head to the biggest astronomical event ever it pays to know your First Contact from your Totality. The Adventure Science Center is showing ECLIPSE: The Sun Revealed in August, which should give you some insight, with a viewing event planned for the big day.

Partial eclipse begins at 11:58 a.m. CDT with Totality at 13:28 p.m. CDT for 1 minute, 54 seconds.

See the moon's shadow engulf Black Mountain – Cumberland County, Tennessee

As the shadow of the Moon rolls in across the Blue Ridge of East Tennessee, Tennessee State Parks will host Total Eclipse at Black Mountain, an eclipse viewing event on a spectacular rock overlook on the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail. It's about a quarter mile walk from the parking area to the rock overlook, and tickets are $10 for adults.

Partial eclipse begins at 13:02 p.m. EDT with Totality at 14:31 p.m. for lasts 2 minutes, 35 seconds.

See 10 more great spots to view the solar eclipse.

See 10 more great spots to view the solar eclipse.

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