The Vista House is a great place to go to look at the stars for the evening outside of Portland or during the day when one is passing through the historic Columbia River Gorge! This is a common site for those who want to potentially catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis as well as view the nights sky! Note, this is located close to Rooster Rock State Park.
Although Vista House is not specifically used by any group for astronomy parties and is limited in space and parking spaces, it is higher up in elevation. Therefore, if the Aurora Borealis is out, one can see into the Mountains in Washington to see it. That said, one could bring any gear that they want to when they would come to visit this site. However, there are very few who actually make this their regular place of observation.
As the city of Portland and surrounding areas have grown in population in recent years, this has meant that light pollution has stayed stable in the Yellow Zone of the Bortle Scale. On the official Bortle Scale, that would equate to a 4.5, which means that it would be hard to find the Milky Way as it would be washed out by the surrounding city of Portland lights.
- How far outside of Portland? ~28 miles, 45 minutes
- Google Maps Location
- # of spots: 20-30
- Cost For Parking: 0
- Parking Permit(s) Required: Oregon State Parks Pass
- Where Permit(s) Can Be Obtained: REI or other outdoor stores or Forest Service Ranger Districts
The closest overnight accommodations would be Ainsworth State Park. There are no overnight accommodations at the park. The building itself is closed at night, but the parking lot is still open.
Current Seeing Conditions/Forecasts
The chart above is courtesy of ClearDarkSky.com and the chart below is courtesy of Clearoutside.com