Idaho Totality Traffic Not Nearly As Bad As Expected

Aug 22, 2017

Monday's total solar eclipse was predicted to bring lots of tourists and even more traffic to Idaho. Officials in towns along the path of totality say things were noticeably busier on Monday but the number of visitors didn't reach the soaring heights some forecasts called for.
Credit Kevin Bean

Monday’s total solar eclipse dazzled viewers in Idaho and across the nation. In the Gem State, crowds and traffic were predicted to reach astronomical levels, but – thankfully – the influx of visitors and vehicles remained manageable, for the most part.

One of the most picturesque and popular places to watch the eclipse in Idaho was Stanley. Perched in the Sawtooth Mountains, the tiny town was told to brace for 20,000 eclipse watchers coming in for the event. However, Stanley City Councilman Steve Botti says the town probably got closer to 10,000 visitors.

“It was as busy as I’ve ever seen it, I’ll put it that way,” says Botti. “Maybe busier in town, but everything went pretty well.”

Botti says traffic flowed smoothly in and out of the rural community both before and after the eclipse. According to him, the real jams came from people hiking into the backcountry. Parking at trailheads did present something of a problem. Still, Botti calls the event a success and thinks people had a great experience.

Echoing the positivity and relief is Matthew Conde with AAA Idaho. He says people heeded the organization’s recommendations to pack supplies and plan for long drives.

Conde describes his reaction to the traffic as “Pleasantly surprised.” He says, “An event of this nature is too unique to underestimate, and you certainly don’t want to fall on that side of the coin. Overestimating is so much better. So I think we gave it its proper due.”

Conde says there was a lull in requests for roadside help during the eclipse because people were where they wanted to be. However, after the spectacle concluded, AAA was flooded with calls.

The one area that did see extensive delays post-eclipse was Interstate 15 going south from Idaho Falls.

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