Salem, Oregon, located just west of Interstate 5, is the state capital and third largest city in the state. The population is about 154,000 in the city and over 400,000 in the area. There is an extensive infrastructure of commercial services including hotels, shopping and attractions. August is often a busy booking period for local accommodations. Advance reservations are a must for eclipse viewers.
Salem features two universities and a community college. The Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center is located between the city and the freeway. There are several large parks, stadiums and golf courses in the area.
Eclipse Viewing Venues
Perhaps the best eclipse viewing location at Lincoln Beach will be at an area park, university or the state fairgrounds. At the start of totality, the sun will be at 40 degrees elevation, fairly low in the southeast. To view the eclipse, you will need to position yourself where a clear view to the east is possible. There are many open spaces both east and west of Salem.
Official eclipse viewing venues may be established in advance of August 21, 2017. These may be set up to take advantage of the open fields near the city where a large number of visitors could park.
Pressure on viewing sites is likely to be heavy on the Interstate 5 corridor. Many eclipse visitors are expected to arrive from Portland and Eugene as these cities are located just outside the zone of totality. As a result, congestion on the freeway, and other major roads, is likely to be quite heavy.
Last Minute Accommodations
Those who would arrive at Salem at the last minute to view the eclipse may be quite disappointed. Late accommodation options are likely to be rather pricey. Visitors may want to consider taking a room in Portland or Eugene and driving for about an hour to an eclipse viewing location. As mentioned, however, traffic congestion is likely to be heavy on the day of the eclipse.
Area Weather Possibilities
Salem, Oregon often has sunny and clear weather in August. Unfortunately, there can be storms rolling in at this time of year. Since clear weather is vital for eclipse watching, eclipse viewers will want to monitor the forecast in advance of August 21. If bad weather is predicted for the area, moving to a more suitable viewing location is advised.
Alternate Viewing Possibilities to Counter Bad Weather
In addition to Salem, the nearby communities of Dallas and Monmouth are in the zone of totality as well. If the weather is threatening for Salem, these communities may offer a nearby favorable viewing experience.
If the weather in Salem is poor for eclipse viewing, the next nearest community may be Madras, Oregon. This small community is about 3 hours away to the east. Obviously a decision to travel to Madras should not be taken lightly. If the decision is made to leave Salem, one should be on the road well before 7AM to ensure arrival before totality at 10:19am. There are few roads around Madras and the area are likely to be very congested August 21, 2017.