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Wind River Eclipse: planning begins for massive 2017 tourism opportunity

Today, more than 50 people from businesses, agencies and organizations across Fremont County gathered at the Wind River Hotel & Casino to discuss what could be the tourist event of a lifetime: the 2017 total solar eclipse. On Aug. 21, 2017, the conditions will align to give the contiguous United States its first solar eclipse since 1918. The tiny swath of land that will get to experience a true total eclipse happens to come right through Wind River Country. And even more so: Wyoming's seasonally good weather (historically only 8 percent of Aug. 21sts have clouds here) and high elevation make for ideal viewing conditions. During today's gathering, community leaders learned about the eclipse, what to expect naturally and what to expect from visitors. Casper is expecting 60,000 people to turn out; Jackson is planning for 40,000. The center of the path of the total eclipse goes right through Dubois, Riverton and toward Shoshoni; so, we can expect a significant amount of visitors too. And in fact, reservations were being made as early as last year for the big event. Locally, the eclipse is being branded as the Wind River Eclipse, and the Wind River Visitors Council is collecting resources for visitors at windrivereclipse.org. Lodging will be an issue. At full capacity, there are a little more than 5,300 rooms/campsites available for visitors. The Fremont County Fairgrounds is planning on opening up space for campers. State parks and municipalities are planning for lots of events to entice visitors to stay multiple days leading up to the big 2+ minutes of total eclipse. After hearing presentations from the Wind River Visitors Council, a consultant with eclipse tourism experience (there are, indeed, eclipse chasers), and the state parks, the attendees broke out into individual sessions to begin more in-depth strategy. The groups included: public administration, real estate/lodging, business opportunities, nonprofit & event providers, photography, reservation use, transportation, recreation & attractions, and science/educational experiences. There's a lot still to plan, but the community's got a great start on preparing for the 10s of thousands of visitors who could be coming our way to get an optimal look at the eclipse. #county10 #news #wrvc