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Small towns in southern Utah preparing for major influx of tourists for solar eclipse

PANGUITCH, Utah — Small-town businesses say they’re entering “survival mode” as they brace themselves for those visiting to watch the “Ring of Fire” partial solar eclipse.

Southern Utah tourist towns are used to crowds already and are excited to welcome even more.

“Panguitch is a really cool little town and not a lot of people know about it,” said Jennifer Harper, co-owner of the Dragonfly Motor Lodge.

Panguitch is a town of over 1,700 that thrives off travelers visiting Bryce Canyon National Park.

LIST: Where you can find an eclipse viewing party in Utah

Some restaurants have closed now that tourism season has come to a close. Others, like Cowboy’s Smokehouse, are taking on the extra customers.

“I guess we’re sort of in survival mode. We’re going to do what we can and do it the best we can and that’s just going to have to be good enough,” said co-owner Ralph Perkins.

Perkins said the steakhouse is getting ready to handle what they can.

“We’ve staffed up the best we can for a busy week but as far as going crazy beyond that, we don’t have the capacity to do that,” he said.

Meanwhile, motels like the Dragonfly Motor Lodge were booked out months in advance.

“We get people all the time calling to see if we have availability,” said Harper.

Harper and Brent Stout, the other co-owner of the retro motel, worry the interstate sights warning about eclipse traffic will deter people from watching the natural phenomenon.

“That’s what happened up in Victor, Idaho, when I was there. We thought there was going to be a ton of people and they scared everybody away,” she said.

They hope spectators can find patience in the crowds and enjoy what Utah has to offer in the land and in the sky.

“To have just one more beautiful, natural event happening here, framed in this place is pretty special on multiple levels,” said Stout.


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