My son and I passed through Prineville, OR, today scouting out spots for Monday. We stopped in at the BLM/Forest Service centers there on the eastern edge of town. They had folks out at tables in the parking lot, to help visitors. Free maps and good advice. We had seen one of those digital highway signs a few blocks back, which was flashing the message EVENT...16 MILES...EVENT...16 MILES. The rangers mentioned that there was something starting up there; a festival.
My son and I drove on out of town, but before we had gotten even halfway through those 16 miles, traffic came to a standstill. In fifteen minutes, we moved one car length. I shut off my engine, got out of my car, and walked back to talk to the person behind me. He said, yes, there's a big festival, starting today and lasting until after the eclipse. and that early arrivals were welcome today. He also said attendees were supposed to expect to wait in line for from two to six hours!!! When I told him I just wanted to get through on the main east-west highway in the area, he said 'I think you should probably turn around and find another way for now.' (Very friendly guy; sounded French.)
So we did. In the fifteen minutes we were stuck, the line behind us grew by over half a mile. We went back to the rangers to tell them, and they were not happy. They were grateful for the news and had had no idea. One of them showed me where the event was taking place: it was sixteen miles to the turn-off from the highway, but many more miles to the venue itself. They said people were paying $400 to attend, and it was like Burning Man. 35,000 are expected. Folks figured traffic would get better once folks were into the place (if they leave during the five days, for any reason, they are not allowed back in!)
Maybe I'm just not a good researcher, but I had not heard about this at all. We're planning now to find a spot somewhere in the National Grassland outside of Madras.
Edited by PaulEK, 17 August 2017 - 12:34 AM.