Located just over the Cascade Mountains near the banks of the Columbia River, Goldendale WA couldn’t be more different than the Seattle metro area. The small town is flanked by wide-open vistas in every direction - golden grasses glistening in the afternoon sun as far as the eye can see.
It is simply beautiful.
“This is one of the most fantastic areas in Washington State and the whole Pacific Northwest region,” said Lem Pratt of Washington State Parks. “You have Mt. Adams to the north and you have Mt. Hood just on the other side of the river.”
There are plenty of places to camp, hike and enjoy the scenery in and around Goldendale, but some of the best sights can only be seen after the sun sets from one of the most unique parks in the country.
“This is an unusual place because it’s a public observatory, and those are not common,” said park ranger Troy Carpenter. He’s responsible for guiding observatory visitors through the cosmos. The room housing the telescope is huge, capped by a rotatable domed roof, protecting the observatory’s most precious asset.
“It has a large telescope, one you might see at a research facility," said Carpenter. "But it’s open to the public and you can look through it.”
The Goldendale Observatory was built by a group of science buffs back in the 1970s who wanted to take advantage of Goldendale’s extremely dark nights and more than 300 days of clear skies a year. The perfect formula for epic stargazing.
So with help from the city of Goldendale, a building was erected and two telescopes were installed. The largest featuring a 24.5” reflector. Many improvements have been made since the facility opened including the installation of computer controlled targeting systems. With the push of a button, the telescope can find almost any celestial body you can think of.
Climb up the ladder, look through the eye piece, and there it is.
And, the best part about the Goldendale Observatory is the price of admission. It’s free! But unless you plan on hiking there, you'll need a Discover Pass to park your car. Don't worry, Its cheap.
Wanna check this place out for yourself? Click Here.