Siuslaw National Forest officials are working on plans to accommodate the large numbers of visitors anticipated to be coming to Oregon this summer to view the solar eclipse. Recreation managers expect the high meadows of Marys Peak and Mt. Hebo to be of great interest to community members and visitors who are looking for prime viewing locations along the ‘path of totality’ – the swath of land where viewers will witness a total eclipse. By mid-March, the forest expects to release full details regarding viewing opportunities on Mary's Peak and Mt. Hebo for the Aug. 21 eclipse, what some consider a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Access to Marys Peak and Mt. Hebo will be managed to provide a unique viewing experience, while ensuring public safety, clear access for emergency vehicles, and protection of sensitive meadows. Additional details will be available in mid-March, but eclipse viewers starting to make plans now can anticipate the following:
For Mt. Hebo, private vehicle access for day use will be available up to the capacity of parking areas by reservation via Recreation.gov. Access will also be open to those arriving by foot and bicycle, though trailhead access may be unavailable or extremely limited.
For Marys Peak, private vehicle access for day use will be available by reservation up to the capacity of parking areas via Recreation.gov. Trailhead parking may be by reservation only or, in some cases, unavailable. The forest is also in discussions with a potential recreation event permittee that may offer shuttle service to the peak, camping opportunities, and enhanced services. The road up Marys Peak will remain open to bicycles, though cyclists should anticipate significant congestion on area roads.
For other forest areas, many Siuslaw National Forest campgrounds are available by reservation and are already booked for the nights leading up to the eclipse. Some areas of the forest are available for dispersed camping, yet the steep slopes and dense forests of the Coast Range limit the availability of suitable camping locations. While access to other forest recreation sites will be available as usual, standard recreation fees may apply and crowding and congestion should be anticipated.
“We love how excited people are to witness this natural phenomenon and it is our intent to welcome them to the national forest to do so,” said Jerry Ingersoll, forest supervisor. “We also know that viewing opportunities on the Siuslaw will be limited by the terrain, the tall trees, and our need to protect safety and resources in a few special places. We’re encouraging folks to plan ahead so they’ll have a memorable eclipse experience.”
With the amount of visitors expected in western Oregon for the eclipse numbering in the hundreds of thousands, it is likely roadways will be congested the weekend prior and the day of the eclipse. Emergency personnel will stretched thin and response times may be slow. Visitors to the national forest should plan their visit well ahead of time, expect limited or no cellphone service, and have eye protection that is certified as safe for viewing a solar eclipse.
Many events are being planned throughout western Oregon. For information on events and viewing opportunities near you, contact your local chambers of commerce or tourism outlets. For more information on viewing the eclipse on the Siuslaw National Forest, contact Lisa Romano, public affairs officer, at 541-750-7075, or visit http://go.usa.gov/x9uGb for forthcoming details.