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Best time to travel to Washington

Stargazing

From towering Cascades to the Olympic Peninsula, Washington offers plenty of starry sky views

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Thanks to the abundance of high alpine areas, the Evergreen State is an excellent place for stargazing. The only enemy that astronomy enthusiasts can encounter in Washington is rain. As it rains a lot here, make sure to check the weather forecast before you plan your stargazing excursion.

The rainiest time of the year in Washington is the winter season from October through March. Usually, the Milky Way is best seen in the Pacific Northwest from late spring to early fall. However, you can also get a great stargazing experience during crisp and clear winter nights, especially with the new moon.

Mount Rainier National Park

With an elevation of 6,400 ft (1,950 m), Sunrise is the highest accessible point of Mount Rainier National Park and its most popular stargazing destination. It can be reached in about a two-hour drive from Seattle. Those who make the trip are rewarded with unobstructed views of the Milky Way and sometimes even northern lights.

Mowich Lake is another remote area at Mount Rainier, which boasts low light pollution. Located at 4,929 ft (1,502 m), Mowich Lake offers great views of the shimmering stars, the Milky Way, and various space objects.

Mount Adams

Being an active volcano in the Cascade Range, Mount Adams is a great place to enjoy dark skies. With an elevation of 12,281 ft (3,743 m), it has almost no light pollution. Mount Adams Wilderness offers many outdoor activities during the summer: camping, mountain climbing, hiking, backpacking, boating, fishing, rafting, wildlife viewing, and scenic driving.

Lake Wenatchee State Park

Leavenworth, a Bavarian-styled village in the Cascade Mountains, is an excellent destination for skiing, hiking, and also stargazing. Lake Wenatchee State Park, which can be reached within a two-hour drive from Seattle, is the most popular stargazing spot here. Set up your camera in the beach area of the park, and you'll capture stunning images of the night skies. Even the northern lights can be seen during the fall and winter seasons.

The Olympic Peninsula

The Olympic Peninsula, located in western Washington, across Puget Sound from Seattle, boasts many excellent spots to look at the skies. Visit Deer Park to see meteor showers in the summer and northern lights in the winter. Illahee State Park is another great destination with 23 campgrounds, beaches, and various amenities. Kalaloch Beach and Third Beach are very popular in the summer due to the proximity of the beach and beautiful unobstructed views. The Ozette Triangle, on the Olympic Wilderness Coast, is another wonderful place for camping and overnight photography on the beach.

North Cascades

A popular hiking and photography destination, Artist Point is located between Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan. With 5,000 ft (1,524 m) of elevation, it offers views of endless skies day and night. The hiking trail to Artists Point is open during the summer season only. The place is popular because of spectacular meteor showers and the Milky Way views.

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