The night sky has been a fascinating subject since the beginning of time. When you look up on a clear night and see the stars twinkling like distant fireflies, it is almost like magic. In many parts of Washington State, there is barely any light pollution, making it the perfect place to stargaze. The sky is so clear it seems like you can reach up and touch the moon! The Goldendale Observatory State Park is one of the best places to see and learn about the night sky. Set in the hills above the Columbia River, this park is home to one of the United States’ largest, most accessible public telescopes. There are several smaller telescopes, an amphitheater, and an observatory on the 5-acre property. Stargazers can come peer through the telescopes as a guide informs them about the wonders of the night sky.
Goldendale Observatory History
The Goldendale Observatory State Park was brought into existence due to the creation of the main telescope. The custom-built Classical Cassegrain was originally constructed for use at Clark College. Its builders realized that the skies there were not clear or dark enough for proper use of the telescope there. After much debate, they decided in 1973 to donate it to the town of Goldendale, Washington on the condition that they build an observatory to house the telescope. The intent of the founders and community was for the facility to serve primarily as a center of public science education and not scientific research. Now, this 5-acre park is owned and operated by the state.
Visiting Goldendale Observatory State Park at Night
The magic of Goldendale Observatory State Park occurs after the sun goes down. The observatory houses 2 large telescopes and several portable telescopes. Each night, the telescopes are powered up and available for public use. The expert staff will answer any astronomy questions you may have and point out some stars, constellations, and even possibly planets that are millions of mile away! The demonstrations are usually outside, so make sure to bring a sweater and check that the night skies will be clear. The park is currently going through renovations so its hours are limited to mostly just weekends. This does not affect the quality of the park; just make sure to check the schedule before you visit. See the night sky like you have never seen it before!
Visiting Goldendale Observatory State Park during the Day
Even though the telescopes at the Goldendale Observatory State Park are only functional after the sun goes down, the park still offers an amazing afternoon program. Visitors can learn about Earth’s closest star: the Sun. This show includes some of the highest resolution and contrast live views of the Sun you will see at any public observatory or science center in the world. At an elevation of over 2,000 feet, this park also has incredible views of the land below. After the afternoon show, take a picnic to eat at one of the outdoor tables. Watch a breathtaking sunset and wait for the nighttime demonstrations to begin!
Stay at Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins
After visiting the Goldendale Observatory State Park, continue gazing at the night sky at Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins. Consider a cabin like the romantic Green Leaf. Set slightly apart from our other cozy cabins, you will be completely surrounded by nature. Sit under the stars at our fire pit, or admire them from your private porch. Our beautiful cabins in the Columbia River Gorge exist solely for your pleasure, and we go to great lengths to ensure your scenic Washington getaway is perfect. Check availability for your getaway today!