Great American Eclipse offers opportunity for landowners in Wyo
On Aug. 21, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Wyomingites will be taking place with Great American Eclipse, which will travel across along several cities in the state.
Wyoming Eclipse Festival Executive Director Anna Wilcox notes that the event will provide a wide variety of opportunities for landowners.
“If landowners are able to offer viewing or host people in any way, whether it’s camping, some sort of small event or just parking cars, that is a huge opportunity,” she says.
“If we think that we have an opportunity where people might come off of those main roads, is it easier for us to go out there and welcome them to a certain portion of our property that we’ve prepared for them, either by mowing or fencing?” asks Wilcox, “Then, maybe we can charge them a fee. What kind of effort would it take for us to make sure that nobody is comes in?”
Wilcox continues, “It’s typically easier for landowners to embrace the event and figure out how to get some control around it in a managed situation versus trying to potentially avoid it altogether.”
For some landowners, avoiding visitors may be a matter of safety or security, however.
“For those people who are trying to avoid the event, really, it is a matter of making sure that we have signs up or somebody out and monitoring our land,” she says.
Permits and liability
Wilcox advises that landowners speak to their local counties to determine if a permit will be needed for hosting events.
The proposed permit for Natrona County will largely be used as a resource for emergency services, says Wilcox.
“Natrona County is not looking to make money off of these permits. They’re not looking to tell landowners what they can or cannot do. They’re concerned about being informed,” continues Wilcox.
Landowners should also contact their insurance companies to determine if any changes need to be made during the eclipse.
“When landowners are taking money for hosting visitors, they’re saying that they have liability,” comments Wilcox. “Is that liability for the residents and the workers? And if they are accepting money or renting a portion of that out, is that also covered?”
She notes that in some instances, hosting visitors will void a landowner’s insurance, and they will need to do an addendum to their policy for a certain timeframe.
“Every insurance company is going to be different,” Wilcox stresses.
“I would encourage people to look and see not only what’s available, but how much is being charged for different types of spaces to see what competitive rates are,” says Wilcox.
In Natrona County, Wilcox explained that there are still 600 campsites in the area available.
“Different businesses are charging RVs $300 for five nights. That comes out to $55 to $60 per night. They’re charging tents $125 for five nights,” continues Wilcox.
With low prices currently available, Wilcox stresses that, unless landowners are able to come in at or below current prices, their listings will not be competitive.
“The other side of that is, if we were to come in at that same price or less, we’re more than likely not going to make out of it what we put into it,” she comments.
Some potentially successful locations for renting campsites continue to be in available areas directly off of U.S. Highway 20/26 or if the landowner is able to cater to large parties.
“If we can cater to a large group, or if we use that average figure as a base price and add something to the experience, we can be more profitable,” Wilcox notes.
While dedicated eclipse chasers typically spend $5,000 in the community they’re in during an eclipse event, Wilcox explains that the majority of those individuals have already made reservations.
“At six months away from the eclipse, we’re now accommodating those people who are more the average person,” she says. “They’re not the guys who are going to spend $750 per night for a hotel room.”
Currently, the city of Casper is expecting an influx of 35,000 people on the days surrounding the eclipse.
“That’s based off the number of hotel rooms, spots and houses. We expect people will influx daily,” continues Wilcox.
However, the number of visitors on the day of the eclipse is still a big question mark.
“They gave a figure of 500,000 for the entire state. It puts Casper on the higher end,” she comments. “I think we could estimate at least 50,000 to 60,000 in Natrona County.”
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.