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A “ring of fire” annular solar eclipse is coming to California and you don’t have much time left to make a plan—but where’s the best place to see it? On Saturday, October 14, 2023, the 125 miles wide path of the “ring of fire” solar eclipse will touch the Golden State’s northeastern corner. It will be possible to see a circle of light around the New Moon for up to 4 minutes 32 seconds during the day using solar eclipse glasses.
Check out my recent posts on special events being planned, hotels, lodges, festivals and RV parks to consider staying in as well as campsites and RV parks in the path to be on October 14.
The best places to watch the “ring of fire” solar eclipse 2023 for Californians to watch the rare celestial event will depend on exact location and driving times, but it’s not necessarily in California. In fact, Nevada and Utah will be better places to head to for most people in California (along with Oregon for those in northern California).
It’s time to study a “ring of fire” eclipse map, find a hotel or campsite and grab a pair of solar eclipse glasses!
Here’s everything Californians need to know about seeing the “ring of fire” solar eclipse:
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California: ‘Ring Of Fire’ Eclipse Map, Path And Time
If you’re not inside the narrow path of the eclipse then all you’ll see is a partial solar eclipse, which are far more common.
San Francisco 76%
Los Angeles 71%
San Diego 68%
Between 9:18 and 9:22 a.m. PDT on October 14, 2023 the northeast corner of California will be visited by the “ring of fire.” Locations include Lava Beds National Monument and Tule Lake Wildlife Refuge, though both of these are remote and not particularly easy to reach.
It’s more likely than most people in California will choose to travel to Nevada, Utah or Oregon to see the “ring of fire,” simply because the road network will make it much easier. “The path passes over a very lightly populated part of California,” said Michael Zeiler, eclipse cartographer at GreatAmericanEclipse.com, in an interview. “For people in the San Francisco Bay area or Southern California, the shortest trips to the path are to Nevada or Utah.” Wherever you make a plan to go see this eclipse, get there—or close—the night before because this eclipse is early in the morning in this region.
Weather For The ‘Ring Of Fire’ Solar Eclipse From California
On his website Eclipsophile.com eclipse meteorologist Jay Anderson states that eclipse-viewing expeditions in Oregon should consider locating east of the Cascades on the south side of the centerline. At Crater Lake, average monthly cloudiness drops below 50 percent and continues to fall to the Nevada border and beyond. So the wise eclipse-chaser traveling from California will head to southeast Oregon or anywhere in Nevada or Utah.
However, more important than climate is weather. So keep an eye on Anderson’s The Eclipse Weather Desk in the days leading up to October 14. and download apps like Windy to your smartphone. Another great resource for planning is the NCICS interactive map, which displays the historical likelihood of viewability for locations across North America.
Driving Distances To See The ‘Ring Of Fire’ For Californians
Since it’s a massive state and the path heads diagonally from northwest to southeast, Californians have choices about where to intercept it, but here are some of the most logical trips to make depending on location:
From the San Francisco Bay area/Sacramento:
Drive north on Interstate 5 to intercept the path of this eclipse south of Eugene, Oregon (530 miles/eight hours from San Francisco).
Drive northeast on Interstate 80 via Reno to intercept the path of this eclipse around Winnemucca, Nevada (385 miles/six hours from San Francisco).
From Southern California:
Drive east on Interstate 15 via Las Vegas intercept the path of this eclipse north of Cedar City, Utah (440 miles/6.5 hours from Los Angeles).
Drive east on Interstate 15 to Las Vegas then head north on Highway 93 to intercept the path of this eclipse around Ely, Nevada (510 miles/eight hours from Los Angeles).
For everyone everywhere save for northern California it’s something of an expedition—and perhaps better treated as an excuse for a road-trip to Great Basin National Park (Nevada), the U.S. National Parks of Utah or Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.
Why You Don’t Need To Reach The Centerline of The Path
A popular misconception about this eclipse is that you must be on the centerline of the 125 miles wide path. You do not. Anywhere about halfway between the edge and the center will get you a long view of “ring of fire” lasting many minutes. So here I’ve recommended places away from the centerline alongside locations closer to it.
Something else to think about is the edges of the path, where the “ring of fire” will only last a few seconds but be preceded and followed by Baily’s beads fizzing around the edge of the moon. If you’ve seen a “ring of fire” before then that might be something to think about (and could reduce both your driving time and the likelihood of crowds).
Best Places To See The ‘Ring Of Fire’ Solar Eclipse For Californians
Here are 10 places to consider seeing the “ring of fire” from California—including places in the Golden State, but also in Nevada, Utah and Oregon:
Time of “ring of fire”: 9:20 a.m. PDT, 4 minutes 17 seconds
A fine option for Californians would be to grab a motel room in this easy-to-reach town on the centerline in Nevada. Close by is Water Canyon and an ancient petroglyph thought to depict an ancient solar eclipse.
Time of “ring of fire”: 9:24 a.m. PDT, 3 minutes 33 seconds
Time of “ring of fire”: 9:19 a.m. PDT, 1 minute 9 seconds
Although the Lava Beds National Monument is on the southern edge of the eclipse path (its welcome sign at the northern entrance will see a “ring of fire” for just 43 seconds), its Captain Jack’s Stronghold trail will get over a minute. To the north where the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway meets Highway 29 the ring will last 2 minutes 39 seconds.
Time of “ring of fire”: 9:24 a.m. MDT, 3 minutes 56 seconds
Although many will head to Sevier on the centerline, Marysvale just short on Highway 89 will see a long-lasting “ring of fire.”
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
10:27 a.m. MDT, 2 minutes 36 seconds
Over 10,000 visitors came to Bryce Canyon National Park for the 2012 “ring of fire,” so expect “a very busy day.” The Bryce Canyon shuttle and shared-use bike path will be the only ways of getting in and out, though there are organized events. The night before will see a lecture at 8 p.m. at the North Campground Outdoor Theater by NASA Lunar Scientist Dr. Barbara Cohen while the night after the eclipse will feature an evening program by Caltech postdoctoral fellow Cameron Hummels, also at 8 p.m, with telescope viewing planned afterwards.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Time of “ring of fire”: 9:17 a.m. PDT, 4 minutes 23 seconds
Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park will be a favorite spot for this eclipse not least because the eclipse will occur just 19° above the southeast and may reflect in America’s deepest lake (as seen from Watchman Peak Trailhead).
Klamath Falls, Oregon
Time of “ring of fire”: 9:17 a.m. PDT, 4 minutes 22 seconds
A lower altitude alternative to Crater Lake National Park—which will attract huge crowds and where it could be snowing—is Klamath Falls, which is hosting both the “Eclipse Into Nature” event at the Running Y Resort as well as the multi-day EclipseFest 2023.
Oregon Dunes, Oregon
Time of “ring of fire”: 9:15 a.m. PDT, 4 mins 29 secs