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Burnet County hopes for ‘organized chaos’ amid 100K visitors for 2024 eclipse

solar eclipse glasses

The Burnet County Tourism office is handing out eclipse glasses, which will be in high demand as the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse approaches. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Burnet County residents and businesses should prepare for cellphone and internet service failures, gridlocked traffic, and supply shortages when a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, brings an expected 100,000-plus visitors to the Highland Lakes, said Blair Manning, the county’s tourism director. She spoke during a Burnet Chamber of Commerce Coffee and Conversations event on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

“How can we get (visitors) here safely?” Manning asked during her presentation. “How can we make sure it’s organized chaos at best, and how can we make sure … they leave the Burnet County area with a good impression and want to come back?”

The county is marketing safety and preparedness rather than trying to draw in tourists because tens of thousands of visitors will likely arrive regardless of advertising efforts, she pointed out.

“We’re a popular place, regardless (of the eclipse) in April,” she told after her presentation. “Add in the eclipse, and Thursday (April 11, 2024) is the Bluebonnet Festival, and I think we’ll see outstanding numbers.”

The estimate of over a hundred thousand visitors, which Manning said is conservative, is based on numbers seen in small towns in the northwestern United States during the 2017 total solar eclipse. A study from the Wyoming Office of Tourism reported that 261,100 people traveled within the state during that time, 108,300 of those visiting counties within the path of totality. 

2024 eclipse path of totality through Texas
The red dot on this map is Burnet. The city lies in the path of totality of the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse, making it a prime location to see the celestial event. Image from

Burnet and Llano counties will be two of the best locations in the nation to view the April 8 eclipse. The city of Burnet, for example, will experience about 4 minutes and 21 seconds of totality during the zenith of the three-hour event.

Higher-populated regions, like those in South Carolina, saw even greater numbers during the 2017 eclipse. An estimated 1.6 million visitors traveled to or within that state, leaving behind a $269 million economic impact.

In Burnet County, Reveille Peak Ranch alone is expecting 40,000 to 60,000 visitors for the Texas Eclipse Festival, which runs April 5-9. The outdoor recreation facility is near the eastern shore of Lake Buchanan just west of Burnet. 

A massive influx of visitors could crash cellphone and internet services across Burnet County for several days, according to Manning’s research. Lack of internet will hinder credit card transactions, so businesses and customers should have cash on hand.

Fuel, food, and necessities could also run low. Manning recommended that locals stock up on essentials before the eclipse.

Travel might become difficult from April 8-9 with expected delays of up to eight hours into the area from Austin or San Antonio. All schools in the Highland Lakes region will be closed on the day of the eclipse and employers should expect long commute times for staff, Manning said.

Law enforcement and emergency services will be staged across five zones in Burnet County to better manage the expected population surge. asked Manning if the predictions for tens of thousands of visitors and numerous logistical challenges were realistic.

“It may not happen, but we would rather be prepared so that if it does, people will still have a positive impression of who we are,” she said. “I think we’ll have the potential to change the trajectory of Burnet County after this event.”