Thousands visited region for April 8 solar eclipse

Around 2,000 visitors chose the Olympic Speedskating Oval in Lake Placid as their viewing spot for the total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8, according to the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, which operates the venue. (News photo — Sydney Emerson)

SARANAC LAKE — How many people came to the Tri-Lakes for the April 8 total solar eclipse? The exact number is impossible to pinpoint, but state officials and local event planners are offering up their best informed guesses, which collectively point to tens of thousands of visitors to this area for the rare event.

Nearly every hotel and vacation rental in the area reported full occupancy. Open fields were packed like they haven’t been in recent memory. The state Department of Environmental Conservation reported backcountry usage similar to the peak Columbus Day holiday weekend. The state Olympic Regional Development Authority estimated that 10,000 people visited their facilities — most of which are in the Lake Placid area. The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism estimated that the eclipse brought $2.7 million in direct spending in Essex County.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office has released data the state collected on the day of the eclipse and Hochul even specifically mentioned the Adirondacks in her statement.

“From majestic Niagara Falls to the mighty Adirondacks, New York was one of the best places on earth to witness this once-in-a-generation celestial event,” she said.


ROOST released an estimate on Monday, April 15 detailing how much money Essex County brought in through overnight visitation during last week’s total solar eclipse. The initial estimate is a $2.7 million influx of direct spending in Essex County during the period surrounding the eclipse by overnight visitors.

ROOST Chief Operating Officer Mary Jane Lawrence said in a statement that this number is a “conservative estimate.”

The figure was not calculated using data from last week but rather via a formula. ROOST calculated overnight visitation by using a 95% occupancy rate at traditional lodging and short-term vacation rental properties at an average nightly rate of $258 and an average stay of two nights.

The $2.7 million estimate includes other spending activity like food, attractions and retail expenditures, calculated using traveler spend information from a 2023 Essex County Leisure Travel Study report. The estimate excludes revenue from day trippers and those who stayed in private residences.

That the number of visitors to Essex County during the eclipse was “significant,” based on traffic, restaurant and viewing location figures, according to ROOST, but the office did not specify an exact figure. Hooper said that ROOST’s estimated number of visitors was compiled from various estimates.

“We are beginning to obtain estimates from viewing locations; some represented by ticket sales but many provide are simply anecdotal estimates. Hotel rooms may not be an accurate predictor either, as rooms may host one person or four. Traffic estimates are also difficult, as there are a number of roads leading into the region,” Hooper said.

More than 65,000 sessions were recorded on ROOST’s eclipse websites, and ROOST’s map of eclipse viewing and parking areas, which was shared on all of the region’s tourism websites, counted more than 500,000 views. ROOST’s eclipse helpline received over 700 calls between April 4 and 8, according to Hooper. She said answering the calls came out to about 20 hours of work for ROOST employees.

The estimated $2.7 million direct spend during the eclipse is around $2.2 million higher than the area would typically see in early April, according to ROOST.


ORDA Director of Communications Darcy Norfolk said they estimated there were more than 10,000 visitors to all its venues that day: Olympic Center, Olympic Speedskating Oval, Mount Van Hoevenberg and Olympic Jumping Complex in Lake Placid; Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington; Gore Mountain Ski Resort in North Creek; and Belleayre Mountain in the Catskills.

Some of these were ticketed locations, but others were just eyeballed, so these are all estimates, she said.

The Olympic Center in Lake Placid was probably their most visited site, she said, and was one of the eyeballed locations. But Norfolk said there were people in lawn chairs all over the Olympic Speedskating Oval, tons of people were inside the Lake Placid Olympic Museum and that the complex was busy for the whole weekend.

She estimated that more than 3,500 came through the center throughout the three days.

At Whiteface Mountain, she said there were an estimated 3,250 people. Gore Mountain saw around 1,100, and Belleayre saw around 600, she said.

The Olympic Jumping complex and Mount Van Hoevenberg saw around 400 visitors each, she said.

Norfolk said the eclipse “exceeded all expectations.” In all their planning, the number of people to visit was always nebulous and what the actual eclipse would be like was wondered about for months. It was “sensational,” Norfolk said.

She said she heard from many first-time visitors who said they’d be returning to vacation in the Adirondacks and said it was a great day to use the facilities the state has put so large of a financial investment into.


DEC spokeswoman Erin Hanczyk said the backcountry in the Adirondacks was “very busy.”

The DEC deployed 23 forest rangers, three lieutenants and one captain to trailheads in the Adirondacks with a focus on the Mount Marcy and Algonquin Peak corridors. Despite the crowds, Hanczyk said they only had one rescue — a helicopter airlift on St. Regis Mountain near Paul Smiths for a leg injury.

“Trailhead parking levels were similar to Columbus Day weekend visitor use with no rescues required in the High Peaks,” according to the DEC.

State parks

On April 8, more than 326,500 people visited state parks — a 52% jump from attendance at that time last year, according to the governor’s office.

The John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid was one of 12 state parks which reached full capacity on that day. Site Manager Brendan Mills said the park had “well over” 1,000 visitors to the farm.

“It doesn’t sound like a lot for a state park, but you have to remember, we’re a fairly small park,” Mills said.

They shut down the road leading to the park to vehicle traffic because it was full of cars, he said. But the event went smoothly, with park rangers and educators from the parks department coming in, as well as park police.

This was Mills’ first total solar eclipse.

“It was really quite a moving event,” he said, adding that some people were hooting and hollering during totality while others were completely silent.

Tupper Lake

Adirondack Sky Center and Observatory President Seth McGowan estimated there were around 15,000 people in Tupper Lake for the eclipse.

Wild Center Marketing Director Nick Gunn said there were 5,034 people at the nature museum, which has the most accurate numbers for crowds because it sold tickets.

McGowan said he eyeballed around 5,000 more at the ASCO’s event at the nearby L.P. Quinn Elementary School. And he added that there were many more at the municipal park, the town beach, on local mountains and around town — which he also estimated at 5,000.

He clarified that this is not scientific data at all.

McGowan said he was “psyched” because NASA kept cutting back to his solar telescope running a feed at the Tupper Lake site. In its nationwide coverage of the event, with most parts of the U.S. experiencing thick cloud cover, Tupper Lake maintained air time with NASA by virtue of its clear skies.

Roads and sky

Road traffic was more difficult to gauge.

“As expected, New York state experienced moderate to heavy traffic volumes in certain areas along the path of totality, especially in the North Country and Adirondacks, and aside from a few crashes that were addressed quickly, there were no major reported incidents,” according to the governor’s office.

The state Thruway Authority reported 5.5 million toll transactions on its toll roads from April 5 to 9, with 1.2 million on April 9 after the eclipse, a 21% increase over the previous year. But without toll roads leading to the Adirondacks, measuring how many of these travelers were coming here is difficult.

As people left town after the eclipse, there was heavy traffic on roads leading south from Tupper Lake and on the Northway, but traffic kept moving and was cleared up in a few hours.

The Adirondack Regional Airport in Lake Clear, owned by the town of Harrietstown, capped the number of incoming private planes at around 50 and the airport had to turn away “a couple hundred private aircraft,” according to airport Manager Corey Hurwitch.

Around 75 planes were also seen at the North Elba-owned Lake Placid Airport, with takeoffs happening shortly after totality ended.

(Adirondack Daily Enterprise Managing Editor Elizabeth Izzo contributed reporting.)

Starting at $1.44/week.

Subscribe Today