If you’ve decided Carbondale is the place to be Aug. 21, there are a few things you should know about getting around town on the day of the total solar eclipse.
NASA estimates some 50,000 people are expected to descend on the town in the days preceding the eclipse, nearly double the town’s population, not counting 16,000 Southern Illinois University students returning from summer break.
Carbondale has a handy map charting out the city’s parking lots, cooling centers, bathrooms and events on its website, but here are some tips for making a trip to Carbondale for the eclipse:
If you haven’t booked lodgings, your options are limited, but you might still be able to find a place to stay if you act fast, especially if you’re willing to either rough it or spend a pretty penny.
Hotels are all booked up, but there are still some alternatives for last-minute planners. There are some spaces on Airbnb left, but most of their prices reach into the thousands. Check it out if it’s within your budget.
Here are some other places that still have availability:
▪ Cabin on the Hill has camping space only available. Call 618-529-5667.
▪ SIU’s Touch of Nature has some cabins and tent camping still available. Call 618-453-3954 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire. Deadline for reservations is Aug. 1.
▪ Camp Ondessonk has bunk beds available in three-sided buildings. Lodging comes with camp and eclipse activities, meals and educational activities. Call 877-659-2267.
▪ CornerStone Cabins has availability. Reserve online, call 618-924-4108 or email SICornerStoneCabins@gmail.com.
You can also contact the Carbondale Tourism Bureau at 618-529-4451 or toll free at 800-526-1500 to see if they have suggestions.
Plan to take a city shuttle, walk or ride a bike once you find a place to park your car. It will be hard to drive around, especially on the day of the eclipse. If you’re driving to Carbondale on Aug. 21, Tourism Bureau Executive Director Cinnamon Smith recommends you give yourself extra time and aim to be in town by 8 a.m. That will give you enough time to situate yourself at whatever location you’re viewing the eclipse from.
The busiest routes into Carbondale will be via Interstate 64 to Illinois 127. Illinois 13 from the east and west will also be busy. Consider entering Carbondale from the south on Illinois 51. If you’re coming from St. Louis, try driving in from the west on Illinois 3 through Chester to Illinois 149 instead of using Interstate 64.
Follow Carbondale police on Twitter for live traffic updates and advisories.
The city of Carbondale designated remote parking sites with shuttles to the Civic Center. The parking sites are at Carbondale Community High School (1301 E. Walnut St.), University Mall (1237 E. Main St.) and Oakland Cemetery (Corner of Oakland Avenue and Rigdon Street).
Shuttle service will go to and from these locations to the Civic Center from Aug. 19 through 21. The cost is $5 cash or $7 credit card per vehicle per day. Shuttles will operate from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday. There will be shuttles from the Civic Center to SIU during those times.
All city-owned public parking lots will be open to the public on a first-come first-served basis. Two-hour metered parking will be strictly enforced.
Premium parking will be available daily for $20 per day in the lots located at the intersections of Mill and Washington Streets and Lincoln Drive and Illinois Avenue.
Parking is also available on the day of the eclipse at University Farms on the west side of campus for $20 per vehicle. Shuttle service provided to and from Saluki Stadium and SIU Arena.
If you have tickets to events at Saluki Stadium, you can park at a paved campus lot for $35 per vehicle. Check eclipse.siu.edu/tickets for more information.
First aid, cooling centers, water and restrooms
The city has a map on its website charting all the first aid stations, cooling centers and places where the public can find restrooms.
You can find public restrooms and cooling centers at the Civic Center, the Eclipse Marketplace, the Family Fun Zone and at the city’s live music events.
SIU’s Student Center and Arena will also be open to the public and have multiple restrooms. You will be able to purchase water at Saluki Stadium and Arena eclipse events, as well as find free water fountains inside the Student Center.
Entertainment and events
▪ Eclipse Day at Saluki Stadium — Programming and demonstrations from NASA Eclipse 2017 plus viewing from the stadium. Tickets available for $25 each. Buy soon, limited availability. Order by phone by calling 877-SALUKIS or online at eclipse.siu.edu/tickets. Small service fees may apply depending on how you purchase your tickets.
▪ Comic Con — SIU will host a Comic Con from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19 and Sunday, Aug. 20. $10 per day, $15 for both days. $20 VIP pass includes two-day pass and eclipse gifts. Free to students with student pass. Buy tickets online at siusalukis.com.
▪ Crossroads Festival at SIU — A free four-day festival at the SIU Arena Parking Lot offering a carnival, food and music for the public. From 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, Aug. 18, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday, Aug. 19 and Sunday, Aug. 20, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21.
▪ Crossroads Art and Craft Fair — A free two-day art fair featuring more than 50 art and craft vendors. From 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, Aug. 21 just north of SIU Arena.
▪ Crossroads Astronomy, Science and Technology Expo — The free expo will highlight organizations and businesses that specialize in solar, astronomy, science, and new technology, featuring NASA Village, science and technology talks and indoor planetariums. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20 and Monday, Aug. 21 at SIU Arena.
▪ Carbondale Shadow Fest — A free three-day live music event at the intersection of Washington Street and Route 13. The event starts goes 5:30 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19 and Sunday, Aug. 20, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21.
▪ Carbondale Eclipse Marketplace — Food, free live music and vendors from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19 and Sunday, Aug. 20 and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21 in the parking lot of First Mid-Illinois Bank, 509 S. University Ave.
▪ Carbondale Family Fun Zone — A water slide, bouncy house, food, crafts and other free activities for children from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19 and Sunday, Aug. 20 and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21 at the Town Square Pavilion (N. Illinois Avenue at Route 13).
▪ Live taping of Planetary Radio with Mat Kaplan — Planetary Radio host Mat Kaplan will have two interactive panel discussions and audience Q&A sessions covering eclipse-related topics from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20 at Shryock Auditorium on SIU’s campus. Tickets are free but registration is required. Reserve tickets through the SIU Ticket Office by phone at 618-453-2000, online at siusalukis.com or in person at the SIU Arena Ticket Office.
If you know of other parking locations, events or public facilities not listed here, call the Belleville News-Democrat newsroom at 618-239-2110.