First, there’s the drive in and out of Goldendale. Head south on Highway 97 after Yakima and Toppenish, and you find you’re dipping into the scrub brush–covered lands of the Yakama Nation and driving past the rumbling Status Creek before climbing, briefly, into the pine-decked hills beside the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Soon you’re passing the St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Monastery, its stucco dome seemingly out of place in this landscape. Drive past town and the road rolls downhill where towering wind turbines dot the landscape in some spectacular, sci-fi sort of way, toward the sparkling Columbia River Gorge.
But slip into Goldendale, with its Mount Adams backdrop, and you’ll find something unique. The city itself is home to the annual summer bluegrass festival Fiddlin’ Under the Stars and fall’s Klickitat County Fair and Rodeo, as well as a long strip of Main Street with a drugstore and handful of restaurants. Then, a few miles out of town, there’s one of the largest telescopes in the country. The Goldendale Observatory State Park is where you can put your eye to Jupiter and four of its moons. Come here starting at 1 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays for a tour of the summer night skies, or from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday to see the winter night skies.
—Julie H. Case