Sparsely populated Utah counties prepare for high population of visitors for eclipse
Oct 13, 2023, 8:52 PM
MOAB — Emergency responders along the path of Saturday’s annular eclipse are preparing for huge crowds and coordinating their efforts to respond in case anything goes wrong.
They’re anticipating people traveling to see the eclipse at Canyonlands National Park and other spots around Grand County, but some of the crowds will likely be in San Juan County early too. Those emergency responders and local leaders are expecting hotels, campgrounds and lodging to be full Friday night.
It’s also why the Grand County Sheriff’s Office has been handing out eclipse information all week to make sure people know what to expect. They started making plans to coordinate between counties and with the state about a year ago. Deputies and police officers will be staffed up for the weekend. There will be additional state troopers and paramedics ready to respond.
“Predictions are 78,000 to 314,000 to the state of Utah … along the viewing path for the eclipse,” Cora Phillips, Grand County Emergency Manager said. “We are encouraging individuals to be patient. We do anticipate heavy traffic in our area this evening and early in the morning. Our recommendation is to leave early, stay late, to kind of avoid those areas of heavy traffic.”
Phillips said its important to have many agencies working together.
“We’re working with local law enforcement, EMS, fire, our National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management to make sure that we all have a plan and we’re making those plans together,” Phillips said.
“It’s a once in a decades thing, yeah of course we’re excited,” Mitch Wangsgard said. “I’am hoping there won’t be any crowds. It will be nice and open and easy. That’s what I’m hoping for. Packing water, packing breakfast, lunch, the whole thing.”
“If you live in Moab you’re not in any hurry to get anywhere,” Tricia Pilcher said.
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