If Maine is your eclipse destination, there’s good news and bad news

Sign Up For Our FREE Daily eNews!

maine path of totality
Monday’s eclipse path of totality covers a wide swath of Maine. Map/Versant Power Astronomy Center, University of Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine – There’s good news and bad news if you’re planning to hop over the border to Maine for Monday’s total solar eclipse.

If you’re coming, you’ll be part of an influx of an estimated 10,000 to 40,000 eclipse visitors on Monday.

First the good news: Maine is one of the few of the 13 states in the path of totality that is forecast to be clear of clouds Monday, an Eclipse Day miracle for a state that’s notoriously overcast and wet in April. The 115-mile wide path of totality stretches some 250 miles, from Maine’s western border with New Hampshire to its eastern border with New Brunswick, and there’s plenty of room to spread out.

The bad news: Maine is still recovering from Thursday and Friday’s storm, which left more than 300,000 without power and also dumped one to two feet of snow in the path of totality. Central Maine Power has said that it won’t have everyone back online until Tuesday. The snow is melting, but it’s leaving behind thick mud, and many sideroads may not be passable.

Even without the issues left behind by the storm, Maine can be a challenging place to visit if you don’t plan ahead. The path of totality covers a wide area, but most of the towns in the path, where there are towns, are small. Restaurants and gas stations are scarce compared to what you may be used to.

The Maine Department of Transportation is expecting severe traffic on Interstate 95. It’s in the path of totality, but it’s the only four-lane highway. If you are taking other routes, you’ll be on two-lane roads that also may have heavy traffic.

“We want you here,” Gov. Janet Mills said at a news conference last week. “We want you to enjoy the eclipse, to do so safely. Bring your boots, bring your coat, wear layers.”

high eclipse traffic routes
The Maine Department of Transportation has put together a map showing where it expects traffic congestion in the state because of the eclipses. Map/Maine DOT

Mills, and the state’s transportation, law enforcement and emergency management agencies have issued a list of tips and warnings for anyone traveling to the state, including:

  • Plan primary and backup travel routes before you come, including for the trip home.
  • Bring food, water and fill up with gas. Even if Google or another app shows that there’s a store, restaurant or gas station, don’t assume it will be open or have what you need.
  • Don’t expect great cellphone reception in some places – many areas of the state have poor reception and towers also may be overloaded in busy areas.
  • Pack a paper map, since internet and GPS also may not work on your phone in some locations.
  • Many backroads in the area of totality aren’t passable because of snow, mud or downed trees – don’t rely on a map or GPS for “shortcuts” if you’re not familiar with the area.
  • If the eclipse happens before you reach your destination, pull off the road to a safe spot. Road shoulders, where they exist, may have snow or thick mud that could cause you to get stuck.
  • Get permission before entering private property.
  • Maine State Park campgrounds and ATV trails will be closed. Baxter State Park (not part of the state park system) is also closed to camping, and Katahdin trails are closed.
  • Even with a sunny, relatively warm forecast, make sure you have boots and coats , and prepare for mud, snow and cold. Temperatures will drop as much as 10 degrees during the eclipse.
  • Animals may be confused during the eclipse and wander into the road, so keep an eye out. When out of your car, keep in mind that bears are already out of their dens looking for food. Black bear attacks in Maine are not common, but bears may be aggressive if they’re surprised or cornered.
  • If you plan to hike to view the eclipse, plan ahead and prepare, since trails are likely to be covered in snow, ice and mud.
  • Ice on lakes is treacherous and most waterways won’t be safe to step onto during the eclipse.
  • If you plan to view the eclipse by boat on the water, wear a personal floatation device and be aware that Maine water temperatures in early April are dangerously cold.

For more Maine eclipse information, visit the state’s resource page.

From State of New Hampshire’s Joint Information Center:

FOM 2024 9450
Gov. Chris Sununu wearing protective eclipse glasses.

The last time NH was in the direct path of a Solar Eclipse was in 1959, and the next time won’t be until 2079. This has the potential to be a once-in-a-lifetime event for many residents and visitors alike.

“We hope that this is a great opportunity, especially in the shoulder season of the state, where we’re in typically what we call mud season,” said Lori Harnois, Director of the Department of Business and Economic Development’s Division of Tourism and Travel. “This is a great opportunity to bring travelers here. They will experience New Hampshire, and we really think that there will be an economic benefit to come. They will see New Hampshire and hopefully book another vacation here. “

Local communities in the North Country have been preparing for months, bringing in extra resources, such as volunteers and provisions, and identifying the best locations for parking.

“We’ve been working in depth with our law enforcement, fire, EMS, the hospital, and ensuring that we have covered to the best of our ability for all those (safety) issues,” said Colebrook Town Manager Tim Stevens. “For the most part it’s going to be all hands on deck during the busy travels times Sunday night into Monday night. Additionally, we’ve set up a couple first aid stations.”

Motorists should “pack their patience” and visit NewEngland511.org for up-to-date road information.

Subscribe Now and Never Miss Another Thing!

About this Author

Maureen Milliken

Maureen Milliken is a contract reporter and content producer for consumer financial agencies. She has worked for northern New England publications, including the New Hampshire Union Leader, for 25 years, and most recently at Mainebiz in Portland, Maine. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.