Idaho's Craters Of The Moon Sees Record Attendance For Eclipse

Aug 23, 2017

Students from the University of Southern California launch a high altitude balloon Monday morning in Arco at an eclipse viewing event co-hosted by Craters of the Moon. The balloon was one of dozens sent up nationally along the path of totality to record the eclipse from thousands of feet in the air.
Credit Yellowstone National Park / Flickr

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.

Ranger Ted Stout with Craters of the Moon leads a talk Monday morning at an eclipse viewing event in Arco. The national monument was just on the cusp of totality; a short 18 mile drive to nearby Arco afforded viewers over a minute of totality.

“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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