This year, Oregonians and visitors from around the world can witness an event unlike any other: a total solar eclipse. This awe-inspiring sight occurs when the moon crosses in front of the sun, blocking its light and briefly turning day into night. The eclipse will be visible in the United States on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, starting around 10:15 a.m. PST. Much of Oregon is 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 are gearing up for a massive influx of visitors eager to witness this cosmic wonder. Portland will see a partial solar eclipse, with the sun 99% obscured by the moon. To experience 100% obscuration, you’ll need to travel 25 miles (40 km) or more south of downtown Portland. Here’s what you’ll need to know to plan the best eclipse experience possible (or to avoid the mayhem altogether).
Oregon eclipse resources
State authorities estimate approximately 1 million people will descend upon destinations within the eclipse’s path, making for lots of traffic. Most hotels and campsites have already been booked, so make your plans and reservations as soon as possible. Don’t arrive without a plan, as finding accommodation at the last minute will be close to impossible. The Oregon Department of Transportation is halting most construction work around the time of the eclipse to ease road congestion. Even so, you should still expect plenty of traffic. Try to avoid travel on the day of the eclipse, when roads will be busiest.
- Get Ready for the Total Solar Eclipse – Travel Oregon
- Total Solar Eclipse: Resources – Travel Oregon
- Total Solar Eclipse: Know Before You Go – Travel Oregon
- Solar Eclipse Safety Information – Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal
- Solar Eclipse weather forecast – National Weather Service, Portland, OR
- Total Solar Eclipse – NASA
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 covers the sun, you’ll need to wear protective eyewear. Sunglasses or a camera lens won’t cut it! Look for certified eclipse glasses that meet international safety standards. You can purchase them online and some public libraries are giving them out for free. The Travel Portland Visitor Information Center has a limited number of eclipse-viewing glasses available on a first-come, first-served basis (limit one pair per person). 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 are scheduled throughout the state along the path of totality. Those staying in Stumptown can also get the most out of their eclipse experience at several local events.
Solar eclipse events near Portland
Note: Tickets to the following events were still available as of July 20, 2017. Please click through to verify current availability.
- Head to the Portland Children’s Museum in Southwest Portland for their all-day, solar eclipse-themed event. Included with admission to the museum is a pair of special solar eclipse glasses to view the event from the outdoor patio. Stick 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 is hosting a free solar eclipse viewing party on its front plaza, along with plenty of kid-friendly space science activities. (While the event is free, the standard $5 parking rate will still apply.)
- Stroll down to Tom McCall Waterfront Park for free eclipse viewing festivities, including a specially-crafted musical broadcast to accompany the celestial event.
- Take 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. The event is free, but organizers recommend bringing your own floating devices and solar eclipse glasses.
- French Prairie Gardens and Family Farm, 33 miles (55 km) from Portland, offers camping and family-friendly activities (Aug. 19–21). Visitors can pet farm animals, take mini train and wagon rides and play cornhole in the run-up to the eclipse.
- The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, 39 miles (63 km) southwest of Portland, is hosting an Eclipse Event Weekend (Aug. 19–20) and viewing party (Aug. 21). Come during the weekend for eclipse-themed presentations and activities, then return on Monday for the main event.
- The Oregon Garden, 45 miles (73 km) south of Portland, presents Total Eclipse of the Garden, Aug. 19–21. This three-day festival offers live music, food, extended garden hours and camping throughout the 80-acre (32 ha) grounds.
- Oregon’s capitol, Salem (47 miles/76 km from Portland), is welcoming visitors to its Solar Eclipse Weekend (Aug. 19–21). Festivities include a concert, building tours and an expert narration of the eclipse led by the Rose City Astronomers.
- Visit the tiny town of Independence, 60 miles (97 km) southwest of Portland, for Indy Goes Dark (Aug. 17–21). Events will include space-oriented movies, live music, a brew fest, bike ride and science lectures.
- West of Salem, downtown historic Dallas (62 miles/100 km from Portland) is offering the four-day Eclipse Celebration on the Square (Aug. 18–21). Head down for live music, food vendors, guest speakers, street performers and more.
What to do in Portland before and after the eclipse
Pre- and post-eclipse events
Passing through Portland on your way to the path of totality? Here are some events to check out before and after the eclipse:
- Art in the Open: This new festival will fill public spaces in Portland’s Old Town Chinatown with art installations and performances Aug. 18–19.
- PDX Adult Soapbox Derby: This hallmark “Keep Portland Weird” event celebrates its 20th anniversary on Aug. 19. See more than 40 teams propel their hand-built, wackily decorated vehicles down Mt. Tabor, an extinct volcano in Southeast Portland.
- Jade International Night Market: East Portland’s Asian night market returns for a fourth year on Aug. 19 & 26, bringing dozens of food and retail vendors.
- Montavilla Jazz Festival: Enjoy a weekend of live music (Aug. 19–20) before the eclipse in southeast Portland’s friendly Montavilla neighborhood. Performances are free, courtesy of some of the city’s finest jazz musicians.
- Fade to Light: Catch this edgy, biannual fashion experience on Aug. 23 at the Crystal Ballroom.
- Festa Italiana: Celebrate Italian cuisine, dancing, music and culture at this free, three-day festival at downtown’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, Aug. 24–26.
- Portland Taco Festival: It’s taco time! Visit Portland Meadows Aug. 26–27, for tequila, margaritas, and more tacos than you can ever eat. Stick around for the lucha libre wrestling and chihuahua racing.
- MusicFestNW presents Project Pabst: Held Aug. 26–27, this music festival in Waterfront Park boasts headliners like Iggy Pop, Spoon, Lizzo, Nas and Father John Misty.
More things to do in Portland
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!)