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Five Scenic Spots To Catch The 'Great American Eclipse' Just Outside Of L.A.

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Joshua Tree. (Photo by Chris Goldberg via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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The "Great American Eclipse" is coming on August 21, and the nation is caught in the grips of excitement. It'll be a historical one, too: as explained at FiveThirtyEight, the path of totality (when the moon completely blocks the sun and casts a shadow over the land) will fall exclusively in the United States. This is the first time it's happened since 1776.

Unfortunately for us Angelenos, that path of totality won't be passing through the Southland. Instead, we'll get an eclipse that's just under 70% in terms of the moon's overlap with the sun. The effect will begin around 9:05 a.m. on August 21, with the maximum effect occurring at about 10:20 a.m.

We'd written before about the places in the Los Angeles area where you can watch the eclipse with other sun gazers. But what if you want to use the eclipse as a reason to take a brief respite from L.A. and embark on a road trip? Here are some spots where you can take nice, scenic drive as you head out to catch the celestial event. One major thing of note: if you really want to catch a closer-to-totality viewing, Mammoth is your jam (see below).

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By Big Bear Lake. (Photo by benjamin page via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
Big Bear Lake

Why watch the eclipse with laymen, when you can catch it with some true astronomy buffs? The Big Bear Valley Astronomical Society will be hosting an event at a "safe observing site" in the eastern parking lot of Big Bear’s Swim Beach. Not only will you be afforded solar glasses, you'll also get access to several solar telescopes that'll be on site. Planners note that the maximum effect of the eclipse will happen at 10:23 a.m., so plan accordingly. This event is free and starts at 9 a.m.

Swim Beach is at 41220 Park Ave, Big Bear Lake.

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Out at Mammoth Mountain. (Photo courtesy of Mammoth Mountain/Facebook)
Mammoth Mountain

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Mammoth Mountain will be closer to the path of totality, which will rake across the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina. As such, sun gazers there will be treated to 80% coverage of the sun (as opposed to the approximately 70% we're getting down here). Organizers will be hosting an event from 9 a.m. to noon at the Mammoth Mountain Summit, where guests will be given solar glasses as long as supplies last. What's more is that a gondola will take you up to the summit, so you'll get to see the vastness of the mountains before you marvel at the sun. It's an environment appreciation twofer! The gondola ride will be $23 for adults, and $19 for youths and seniors (up to two kids 12 and under can ride with a paying adult for free).

Mammoth Mountain is at 10001 Minaret Road, Mammoth Lakes. (800) 626-6684.

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Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. (Photo courtesy of Palm Springs Aerial Tramway/Facebook)
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Don't want to drive all the way up to Mammoth, but still want to watch the eclipse from a dizzying altitude? If so, Palm Springs is another great option. Starting at 8 a.m., the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway will take you up to the Mountain Station, where there'll be an eclipse event at the deck. A solar telescope will be on hand, as well as 50 solar glasses. While the event is free, tickets for the tram are $25.95 for adults, $16.95 for children ages 3 to 10, and $23.95 for seniors age 65 and above.

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Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is at 1 Tram Way, Palm Springs. (888) 515-8726.

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Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo courtesy of Joshua Tree National Park/Facebook)
Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park will be offering 800 pairs of solar glasses at its entrances at Park Boulevard, at Cottonwood on the backside of the park (off Interstate 10) and at Twentynine Palms, according to Palm Springs' tourism site. And how about some arts and crafts to go with your viewing? The park's main event will be at the Oasis of Mara Visitor Center in Twentynine Palms. There, rangers will give you materials to make your own pinhole camera. Also, you'll be provided thumbtacks to poke holes and spell out your name on a sheet of paper. After placing another piece of paper over this, you can use it to view the eclipse— the effect is that your name lights up with the sun's rays. We're not sure how spectacular this will actually be, but we assume there's some potential for an Instagram post.

Furthermore, there'll be a solar telescope at the Oasis of Mara Visitor Center. The event is free, but entry fees still apply for the park. The program at Oasis runs from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

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You can find the various entrances to Joshua Tree National Park here. The Oasis of Mara Visitor Center is at 74485 National Park Dr, Twentynine Palms. (760) 367-5500.

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Sky's The Limit Observatory And Nature Center. (Photo courtesy of Sky's The Limit/Facebook)
Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center

Unassuming and located in the middle of the desert, this observatory may be easy to miss. But it's a noted gathering spot for some of the desert's most ardent astronomy fans. On the day of the eclipse, Sky’s The Limit will provide solar glasses and will have a solar telescope set up for visitors. You're invited to bring your own lawn chair to lay out comfortably, as well as bring your own snacks and water (though no alcohol, please). The event is free and will run from 9:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Children under 16 must be accompanied by adults.

Sky’s The Limit is at 9697 Utah Trail, Twentynine Palms. (760) 365-7897.

Related: Where To See The 'Great American Eclipse' Around L.A.