Although Craters Of The Moon National Monument in the eastern part of the state wasn’t directly in the path of totality, the otherworldly landscape proved a popular destination with eclipse-watchers. The monument near Arco saw a record amount of visitors and made a big announcement.
Craters of the Moon scheduled events throughout the weekend culminating in Monday’s total solar eclipse. There were stargazing parties, people from NASA on hand and the release of a high altitude balloon to capture the eclipse from thousands of feet in the air Monday morning.
“On that Monday, we had 2,439 vehicles come into the park,” says Ranger Ted Stout, chief of interpretation and education at Craters.
“Typically we’d have about 450 on an average late-August day.”
Stout says it was so packed the monument had to close its gates two days in a row and turn away visitors for hours.
“That has never happened in the history of the park, as far as I know,” he says. “Exceeding the capacity of the road and the parking lots . . . I’ve been here 13 years and I’ve never seen that before.”
A car accident after the eclipse slowed down drivers heading west from Arco towards Craters for a few hours, but otherwise, traffic around the monument wasn’t bad.
During Monday’s event, officials at Craters revealed the monument is being recognized for its pristine night sky.
Stout says after the main show of the eclipse, “We had a special announcement: Craters of the Moon has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park.”
Craters joins a short list of places in the U.S. and abroad that have actively fought light pollution and offer exceptional views of the stars.
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