Goldendale Observatory State Park Heritage Site

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ALERT: Goldendale Observatory is closed until further notice due to COVID 19.


Fledgling astronomers and night photographers, find your bliss at Goldendale Observatory. Set in the hills above the Columbia River, this unique state park heritage site houses one of the nation’s largest, most accessible public telescopes. The site is famous for its dark skies and informative science programs.

Daytime visitors also will find stunning views of the countryside and vivid sunsets, which coincide with moonrise at certain times of year. So, bring your sweetheart, your family, your star-watcher friends and your cameras, and take part in one of the many viewing programs held here.

The main telescope was the brainchild of four Vancouver, Washington-area amateur astronomers who designed and built the instrument in the 1960s over a period of six years, with help from Clark College and its students. Vancouver’s light pollution and cloudy weather precluded siting the telescope in that area, and the builders’ search for a perfect star-gazing spot eventually led them to Goldendale. The telescope was formally donated after the town agreed to build a public observatory to house it.

This day-use park is less than 25 miles from the Maryhill Museum of Art and larger camping parks of Maryhill State Park and Columbia Hills Historical State Park, making the area a fascinating and scenic destination.

Park features
Goldendale Observatory is a 5-acre facility on a hilltop 2,100 feet above sea level and 2 miles north of downtown Goldendale. The park, with its large public telescope, has attracted hundreds of thousands of sky-watchers since its dedication in 1973.

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Picnic & day-use facilities

There are two unsheltered picnic tables, available first come, first served.


  • Amphitheater

Interpretive opportunities

> ALERT Interpretive opportunities are not available at this time due to COVID 19.

Goldendale Observatory was the designated official headquarters of the National Astronomical League for the total solar eclipse of Feb. 26, 1979; the facility continues to be a major center for viewing significant astronomical events, including the 2017 solar eclipse. Under normal circumstances, the interpretive center offers afternoon observation and evening night-sky tours via one of America's largest public telescopes. Visitor requests will be considered once the facility reopens.