Statewide coverage of the August 2017 solar eclipse is brought to you by Shoshone Rose Casino and Hotel.
(Gillette, Wyo.) No, it might not be in the path of totality, but Campbell County is gearing up for this summer’s big solar eclipse nonetheless.
We spoke with Mary Silvernell at the Campbell County Convention and Visitors Bureau about what residents can expect to see around town this August, when cities like Jackson, Riverton, Casper, and Douglas — which are in the path of the full solar event — have been planning activities a year in advance.
But just because Gillette’s not in the path of a 100% solar eclipse doesn’t mean it’ll be left out. Former Planetarium director Nello Williams says we can expect to reach 96.7% totality up in Northeast Wyoming.
“Still being that close to the path of totality, the only light you’ll see will be a tiny sliver like the width of a fingernail,” said Silvernell. “So it’s gonna be pretty darn close.”
There’s a citywide committee incorporating the school district, public library, Gillette Main Street, Cam-Plex and yes, Nello Williams, in trying to put on a county-wide event the weekend of August 19th. (Yes, the town be hosting the Antiques Roadshow and experiencing a solar eclipse the same weekend.) But the main event is Monday, August 21st. CCSD is even pushing back the start of the school year to give kids a chance to come out that day and take part.
“Obviously this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity for some people, because of where it is,” said Silvernell. “We felt it was important that kids didn’t have to go to school that day.”
Wyoming is going to be a popular destination for the eclipse in part because of its wide-open spaces for viewing and its expected good weather in the summer for stargazing. Not to mention there are plenty of summer attractions in the state — why wouldn’t you want to schedule a trip to the Tetons when you can also see a historic event at the same time? — that will hopefully give us a much needed revenue boost from tourism dollars.
Campbell County has 2100 hotel rooms to offer, and international tourism groups are just starting to realize they can take advantage of the amenities found in Gillette and still see the event. Silvernell says even the hotels in Wright are getting phone calls this week, with a block of 25 rooms just being snapped up by one tour group.
There will be a lot of fun things in the work for our area in August.