Where to see rare solar eclipse in Ohio

Where to see rare solar eclipse in Ohio
March 19, 2024 James Proffitt, Great Lakes Now

The path of totality during the April 8 solar eclipse is expected to run directly across northwest Ohio, keeping tourism officials in the area, who normally plan for crowds to begin arriving in May, extra busy.   

Some private campgrounds in the area that are opening early for the eclipse and have sites available, including Crystal Rock, Erie and Ottawa County fairgrounds, Cedarlane RV Resort, Camp Sandusky and Camp Perry RV Park. A spokesman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said most state campgrounds in the path of totality are already full. Near Lake Erie, campgrounds at Kelleys Island, East Harbor, and Maumee Bay state parks are already fully booked.   

According to Ben Simon, Shores & Islands director of marketing and sales, tourism officials have been working on eclipse-related projects for months.    

“We’ve ordered about 65,000 solar eclipse glasses and we’re starting to give them away to the public, visitors can come in and get up to 10 ten pairs for their family.” he said. “And we’ve had a number of different partners order glasses with their logo on it.”    

According to Simon, populations in Ohio’s Erie and Ottawa counties are expected to swell to levels usually only associated with the three major summer holidays.   

“Erie County has 75,000 residents right now and the talk is there’s going to be three to four times that many people,” he said. “Same with Ottawa County. I know people are flying into Detroit because the Cleveland airport is booked.”   

According to Simon, Shores & Islands website, traffic and travel inquiries are coming in from all over the U.S. as well as Europe and Australia. And staff have done their astronomical homework.    

“We’ve talked to NASA and a number of people who went through this in 2017,” he said. “To kind of see what’s expected, number of people, where to direct visitors.”   

On South Bass Island, the Perry’s Victory Monument and Peace Memorial will host A Monumental Eclipse on the national park’s lawn.    

“We’ve been meeting for months to plan this and we’ve got quite a few restaurants that will be open as well as lodging facilities, parks and trails and other businesses,” explained Wendy Chambers, executive director of the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce. “When you get off the Miller Ferry we’ll be handing you complimentary solar glasses and a What’s Open map.”   

Weather permitting, the Miller Ferry will transport thousands of visitors to South Bass Island for the solar eclipse on April 8. Photo by James Proffitt.

According to Chambers, just a handful of island businesses operate during early April. This winter, two restaurants were open, though during the eclipse weekend, about 10 are expected to be open. E’s Golf Carts is offering ferry/golf cart packages, and taxi services will be available, she said.    

“If you go to the Shores & Islands website, you’ll see that every community in the area is doing something,” Chambers said. “It’s astounding. For me this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing and I think doing it on an island is pretty special. You’re going to have a great memory even if you just come for the day.”    

According to the Kelleys Island Chamber of Commerce, many businesses will use the eclipse to open the season about three weeks early.   

Port Clinton Mayor Mike Snider said the city will host an event at Waterworks Park on Lake Erie that includes a DJ and food trucks. He’s excited to see visitors come to the region extra early in 2024.    

“I know folks in other locations have told us to watch out for people parking in unusual spots but I think in many cases those communities weren’t set up like we are, with the hotel rooms and campgrounds and the infrastructure to host tens of thousands of visitors,” he said. “I just hope that everyone finds the time to step out of their house or wherever they are and watch this because I don’t think any of us will be around to watch this the next time.”    

According to Charlynn Frias, who oversees all things Jet Express, the iconic high-speed ferry that runs from Port Clinton to the Lake Erie islands, the Jet originally announced intentions to open earlier than usual for the eclipse, though they decided against it. However, they are opening up their parking lot to anyone who wants to come out, and if eclipse tourists want to hang out in their RVs, she said that would be fine. Frias also noted the Jet’s dockside bar will be open.  

“We’re a little nervous. I love anything that’s going to bring people to this area and I love the numbers,” said Frias. “But our concern has been the weather – in April on Lake Erie you never know what you’re going to get.”   

While the Jet won’t be running until May, the Miller Ferry has commenced service to Put-in-Bay and the Kelleys Island Ferry to Kelleys Island. In Sandusky Cedar Point will open for the eclipse with limited tickets available.

Catch more news at Great Lakes Now: 

Where will you be for the April 8 total solar eclipse? There’s still time to grab a spot

Teachers and scientists work together on the Lake Guardian

Featured image: Deer at East Harbor State Park campground, which will soon be filled with eclipse tourists come early April. Photo by James Proffitt.


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