Utahns travel east to experience the total solar eclipse

Apr 8, 2024, 6:26 PM | Updated: 6:42 pm

SALT LAKE CITY The eclipse was near 50% totality in Utah on Monday. However, that didn’t stop people from road tripping or flying more than a 1,000 miles east to experience darkness.

People from across the country ended up in the town of Danville, Arkansas, including Orem resident Johnny Cope and his family.

Cope said his family drove through the night for a chance to see the rare event.

“It was like a 22-hour drive,” he said. “We made it here with like an hour to spare.”

Cope said this was the first time he has seen an eclipse, and had no regrets about the trip.

“It was worth it,” he said. “Twenty-two hours of driving for, you know, 4 minutes of totality. When that totality hit, I just, like, melted. I just had to lay down on the ground and just be in awe.”

The Cope family weren’t the only ones from Utah to travel east for the event.

Last second decision

In Poplar Bluff, Missouri, Murray resident Adam McGrath had his camera ready to record the eclipse.

McGrath said he made a decision at the last moment to make the trip.

“I didn’t make plans until, like, just a few days ago,” he said. “I decided to come here to Missouri just because it was the closest that seemed like the most likely to have like full totality.

This isn’t the first time McGrath has seen an eclipse.

“That’s my third eclipse that I’ve seen,” he said. “The first one when I was a teenager. Then I saw the one in 2017, and now this one. And it. They just get better and better every time.”

But the forecast for this eclipse made travel challenging.

“They closed down I-70 for a couple of hours because there was some brownout conditions,” he said.

Despite the delays, McGrath said Missouri was where he was meant to be.

“You can see Venus and Mars, Venus and Mercury and just around the sun,” he said.

McGrath also said that everyone should experience an eclipse at least once.

“Don’t worry about like cameras and stuff,” he said. “Just enjoy the experience the first time.”

Hotel reservations in three states

A Lehi family had hotel reservations in Texas, Arkansas and New York. However, the weather changed their plans a few times.

Maria Peck and her family decided to leave Rochester, New York for a better view.

“We woke up and it was cloudy,” Peck said. “And we’re like, ‘we’ve got to get out of here.’ So we hopped in the car at 6 o’clock in the morning and just drove till we could see blue skies.”

The Pecks ended up in Wapakoneta, Ohio.

“You could see the diamond ring,” Peck said. “You could see a sun glare on the sun down at the bottom. It was bright red. It was just incredible, indescribable. All the birds went silent.”

Months of planning and days of driving led up to four minutes.

“It’s just the feeling of everybody around you,” Peck said. “It’s just an out of this world building. And it brings so many people together.”

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Utahns travel east to experience the total solar eclipse