Portland and Oregon solar eclipse guide

Here’s what you needed to know about experiencing this once-in-a-lifetime celestial event in and near Portland.

eclipse copyParts of Oregon will experience a total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017.
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A total solar eclipse was visible in the United States on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, starting at around 10:15 a.m. PST. Much of Oregon was in the “path of totality,” a narrow strip where the total eclipse can be seen. (Fun fact: The last total eclipse in Oregon was in 1979, but an eclipse’s path of totality hasn’t traversed the entire continental U.S. since 1918.)

Towns across Oregon geared up for a massive influx of visitors eager to witness this cosmic wonder. Portland saw a partial solar eclipse, with the sun 99% obscured by the moon. To experience 100% obscuration, people traveled 25 miles (40 km) or more south of downtown Portland.

Oregon eclipse resources

Plan ahead

State authorities estimated approximately 1 million people would descend upon destinations within the eclipse’s path, making for lots of traffic. The Oregon Department of Transportation halted most construction work around the time of the eclipse to ease road congestion. Even so, visitors were to told to expect plenty of traffic and to try to avoid travel on the day of the eclipse, when roads were busiest.

Eclipse links

Protect your eyes

You should never look directly at the sun, even during an eclipse. Other than for a very brief moment when the moon completely covered the sun, it was necessary to wear protective eyewear. Sunglasses or a camera lens won’t cut it! Experts urged viewers to use certified eclipse glasses that met international safety standards.  Read more about eclipse viewing safety on NASA’s site.

Solar eclipse events

When the cosmos do something this cool, you’ll want to make the occasion count! Special events were scheduled throughout the state along the path of totality. Those staying in Stumptown also got the most out of their eclipse experience at several local events.

Solar eclipse events in Portland

  • Many headed to the Portland Children’s Museum in Southwest Portland for their all-day, eclipse-themed event. Included with admission to the museum was a pair of special solar eclipse glasses to view the event from the outdoor patio. Attendees stuck around to play and learn about outer space through a variety of art, science and sensory activities.
  • Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) in Southeast Portland hosted a free solar eclipse viewing party on its front plaza, along with plenty of kid-friendly space science activities.
  • Thousands strolled down to Tom McCall Waterfront Park for free eclipse viewing festivities, including a specially-crafted musical broadcast to accompany the celestial event.
  • Swimmers took a dip in the Willamette River during the Solar Eclipse Splash Mob Float and Swim, organized by the Human Access Project, for unobstructed views of the eclipse.

What to do in Portland before and after the eclipse

On a budget? Check out the many attractions of Portland Parks & Recreation’s Summer Free for All. From swimming to movies and music in the park, there’s something for everyone all summer long — entirely free of charge. August is the perfect time of year to hike or mountain bike beneath the shady canopy of Forest Park. Then take a stroll along peaceful paths in the newly updated Japanese Garden. And of course, mid-August is prime time for water recreation, so why not play in the river? Grab a stand up paddleboard (you can rent one or take a lesson) and head to the Willamette River.

More Portland planning resources

How to avoid the eclipse

There’s nothing you can do to stop the moon in its orbit, but if you really want to avoid the crowds and general hubbub, we have a few tips. Portland isn’t in the path of totality, so it’s a good place to be during the eclipse. Avoid travel altogether on Monday and the days before and after the eclipse (Aug. 20 & 22), if you can. It’s also wise to stay off highways and major thoroughfares both in and out of the city.

You don’t need to worry about traffic at all on one of Portland’s many walking tours. Spend the day basking in the sun of a patio bar or catching a game at a favorite sports bar. If beer and a movie is more your style, the city has several options. To miss the crowds flocking outside for eclipse views around 10:15 a.m., try one of Portland’s legendary breakfast joints. (There might not even be a line!)


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