Eclipse Rentals

Katie Schultz poses in front of her home Wednesday afternoon in Casper. Schultz is planning to list her home on Airbnb for tourists during the solar eclipse in August.

Dan Cepeda, Star-Tribune

Kelly McCrimmon’s home has two separate entrances, one upstairs and one down, and is next to Casper’s Washington Park, where crowds are expected to flock for the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse.

It’s a good location and has good amenities, she said.

She said she may rent part of the house to guests during the event in which the moon will block the sun, darkening the sky, a rare phenomenon during which Casper will be one of the best spots for viewing.

First, she needs to check with her homeowners’ insurance company to determine whether her policy covers renters. If it does, she’ll have to decide whether it’s worth the cost.

“I may rent out the top floor and stay in the basement,” she said. “I’m not sure yet. I’m just thinking about it.”

Dozens of Casper-area residents are mulling listing their homes on sites such as Airbnb, said Anna Wilcox, director of the Wyoming Eclipse Festival, who recently presented to about 80 Casper residents information on how to list price and list their homes and what to consider before opening their abodes to guests.

As of Wednesday, there were 97 rentals available between Aug. 17 and Aug. 21 in Casper, ranging from $350 a night for a private bedroom accommodating up to four guests, to $8,750 per night for a four-bedroom house for up to 15 guests.

Wilcox provided a dose of reality to Casperites, many of whom hope to earn big money during the eclipse.

There are still roughly 100 hotel rooms available, going from $700 to $800 a night. Most of them are suites that can sleep four or more people. When dividing up the cost, an $800 room will be will be reasonable to many of them.

There are around 500 campground sites still available as well, she said, going from $125 a night to $300 for the entire weekend.

“I hate to break it to you, but as you can see, the hardcore eclipse chasers, they’re already booked,” she said.

Many dedicated celestial travelers have booked rooms in a number of cities, in case the forecast shows Casper will be cloudy at around 11:42 a.m., when the totality will begin – the time when the moon completely blocks the sun, Wilcox said.

The die-hards spend a lot of money on their pilgrimages to view eclipses, she said.

Travelers who haven’t booked yet will be folks taking family vacations. They don’t spend as much, she said.

Not all Casper residents are in the home rental business to solely make money. Some truly want to play host to visitors.

“Hello Eclipse Travelers!! Fellow star chasers...Welcome to Wyoming and to our home,” read one Airbnb post that Wilcox described as particularly well done.

Wilcox said the trio of roommates wrote a profile for their home gave a welcoming vibe. They sound excited to host people, she said.

“They even offer to pick you up from the airport,” Wilcox said. “They really, really go all out.”

Barb Wittke sat with a spiral notebook on her lap, scribbling notes as Wilcox talked. She has a house near Alcova Reservoir. She plans to offer her Casper house for rent.

“My daughter looked it up, We have a three-bedroom ranch house in Paradise Valley and we are going to ask $1,000,” she said.

The house sleeps six, she said.

“You figure six people, divided by $1,000, it’s not really bad,” she said.

Katie Schultz and her family plan to spend the weekend with her parents in Paradise Valley, which will make her empty downtown house available.

Schultz is drawing on her experience in which she and 10 other extended family members rented a mountain house near Bozeman, Montana.

“There was a hill to go sledding and a hot tub. It was a really nice family house,” she said. “It was less expensive than renting hotels and eating out. And with small children, hotels aren’t the easiest.”

Follow political reporter Laura Hancock on Twitter @laurahancock

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