PRINEVILLE, OR -- The massive eclipse viewing event at Big Summit Prairie in the Ochocos gets underway Thursday, and it's already leading to major traffic problems in Crook County. Highway 26 east of Prineville was extremely congested Wednesday night; at one point ODOT reports the backup stretched about 14 miles. Eastbound traffic west of Prineville wasn't any better. The Symbiosis festival is expected to draw 30,000 people.
Kyer Wiltshire is here from California to watch the eclipse at Big Summit Prairie. He spoke to KBND News after filling up his gas tank in Redmond, Wednesday afternoon. "It’s a bit – it’s starting to get overwhelming this morning. I camped near Smith Rock last night, and I spent this morning mountain biking in Smith Rock; and, when I hit the highway – 97 – I went, ‘Wow!’ There was a line of cars." He says he was prepared for the crowds, just not this early in the week.
Law enforcement and ODOT are patrolling the area in an effort to keep everyone moving. Crook County officials say traffic is already backing up Thursday morning. They urge residents who don't need to travel Thursday or early Friday to stay home. Traffic is expected to lighten slightly later Friday and over the weekend, although it'll still be heavy.
Eclipse Coverage on KBND is supported in part by Awnings Unlimited. Shade yourself from the sun with Awnings Unlimited at 5541-389-1619 and awningsunlimited.net.