Goldendale Observatory State Park, Goldendale

#4 of 8 in Things to do in Goldendale
Goldendale Observatory State Park is an educational facility near Goldendale, Washington, notable for its unusually large public telescope. The state park occupies atop a 2100ft hill. Access is via a winding paved road through an oak forest. The site includes a small picnic area, interpretive center, amphitheater, and the observatory. There are several telescopes on-site, including portable Dobsonians, a permanently mounted Hydrogen-Alpha solar telescope, and the primary instrument; a 24.5 inch reflector which is housed in the South Dome. The facility receives 30-40,000 visitors annually.
The main telescope is the reason for the existence of Goldendale Observatory and was the work of four amateur astronomers — M.W. McConnell, John Marshall, Don Conner and O.W. VanderVelden — who built a 24.5in Cassegrain reflecting telescope. At the time, this instrument was one of the largest amateur-built telescopes in the world and was originally intended for Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. However, due to the typically wet and cloudy weather on the windward side of the Cascade Mountain Range, the four gentlemen sought a clearer, darker area to install the telescope. While getting food and gas in Goldendale, Washington, the builders met a local diner owner and city council member who suggested they donate their telescope to the town. After some reluctance, an agreement was made and the telescope was donated to Goldendale on the condition that the community build an observatory to house the telescope. A local, non-profit organization was created to plan and support the observatory which was ultimately constructed to the north of town using donated, loaned, and federally granted funds. 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. The observatory dome has a diameter of.
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Goldendale Observatory State Park Reviews
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88 reviews
  • A great place to visit and take kids of all ages. Learning experience. A lot of people do not know about this wonderful observatory state park and it is a shame that more do not attend.  more »
  • The day we were there, our tour started out with only my husband and myself. Partway through we were joined by a family of 3 generations that included two small boys. The guide transitioned smoothly, ...  more »
  • While the main observatory is closed for upgrades to the telescope, the temporary site at Stonehenge is great. The rangers teaching are wonderful and full of information, even on nights where there’s too much cloud cover. Highly recommend! The views of the Columbia River Gorge and Mt Hood are worth the visit on their own.
  • The trails on Observatory Hill are great! The "expert" has some steep inclines, but is still pretty accessible. There are quite a few extra trails that have been created by other hikers and bikers, but it's all contained enough to figure out where you're going. Great viewpoint of Mt. Adam's and Mt. Hood if you do the "expert" trail.

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