CHEYENNE, Wyo. (CBS4) – An estimated 500,000 people made their way to Wyoming by Monday to experience a total solar eclipse. With so many people traveling to the state, traffic leading in to Wyoming from Colorado was often stop-and-go.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” said Sgt. Kyle McKay, spokesperson for the Wyoming Highway Patrol, on Monday. “Wyoming has never experienced this amount of traffic for this long of a period of time.”
The Wyoming Department of Transportation told CBS4 traffic entering the state increased by 214,000 vehicles just on Sunday.
Most of those travelers were headed to the line of totality, which ran through central Wyoming. Since the Casper area was attracting so many people, other eclipse fanatics chose to stay closer to Colorado.
“97 percent is close enough to 100,” said Ashley Baily, a Denver resident who traveled to the Wyoming border for the event. “We could get up here, not hit a lot of traffic, and get back to town.”
Those who chose to watch the event from the Southeast Wyoming Welcome Center south of Cheyenne told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas the eclipse was just as amazing as they assumed it would be further north.
“It is one of the major things of the world,” said Alice Loesch, a resident of Indiana who witnessed the eclipse there.
A group of teenagers from Montana also stopped at the visitor’s center to witness the event.
“I have to double up, because it still kind of hurts my eyes without it,” said Gunnar Johnson, who was wearing both sunglasses and special eclipse viewing glasses.
After the eclipse, southbound traffic on Interstate 25 started to jam in the afternoon. Some told CBS4 it took them nearly two hours to travel less than 60 miles.
Wyoming Highway Patrol said they expected traffic to last well into Monday night, and possibly into Tuesday.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.