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LIGO Trip v3

  • Horn Rapids County Park (map)

For several months now, members have been asking when we are going to take another trip to LIGO*, especially since we found such a great camp ground nearby when we went last year. Good news! We’ve set the date for Saturday, October 13. It’s going to be a great trip, but we’re going simple this time. Pay attention; here are the details.

1.  We selected October 13 because that is the second Saturday, the normal time for public tours at LIGO.  LIGO now offers a walking tour at 1:30, a public talk at 3:00 in the auditorium, and at 3:30, another walking tour. Visitors can select when they take the walk and LIGO can manage larger numbers of people, so we all win.

2.  We also selected October 13 because on the second Saturday of September, there is a large fishing event at the campground and we couldn’t reserve it. The locals tell me that mid-Sept. to mid-Oct. is the perfect time of year for weather.  We shall see.

3.  We have reserved the entire Horn Rapids County Park campgrounds for Friday night, October 12 and Saturday night, October 13 for RCA Members and Their Guests. That’s 22 camping spaces, times two nights. Some spaces accommodate tents and some are for RVs, but there is no price difference this time. We get every space for the price of the tent camps: $15/night.  We discovered last year that the campground has everything an observer wants: flat grassy ground, low horizon, clean large bathrooms, pleasant surroundings, close to LIGO, close to urban amenities and lots of outdoor activities.

4.  We will not drive up together. I will post the driving directions and our members can choose when and how they will go, which nights to stay, etc. But we will camp together, which is fun**, and take the LIGO tour together.

5.  We will not organize a tour of the B Reactor at Hanford Nuclear Research Site. Since last year, there have been a number of leak and discharge incidents, to the extent that I do not feel comfortable offering a tour of the site as an official RCA activity. However, if you wish to take the tour, they are available on that weekend. You may contact the Manhattan Project National Historical Site at to register for a tour.

6. Our Saturday night star party will be in the campground, not at LIGO. It cuts down on driving back and forth between locations.

Registration and payment for our third RCA trip to LIGO for RCA Members and Their Guests will go through RCA. Registration will open on August 20 and close on October 1. Watch the website and the forum, and we will send out reminders.


Dawn Nilson suggested that taking a tour of the She Who Watches Monument at the Columbia Hills Washington State Park on the way up to LIGO would be a nice addition to someone’s trip.  

There are two choices:  10 a.m. Friday, October 12 and 10 a.m. Saturday, October 13. The park is near Lyle, WA, just across the river from The Dalles, so it’s about ninety minutes from Portland. The tour is free but there is a $5 parking fee. The tours are limited to 25 people and registration is required.  Here’s an excerpt from their website:

Reservations are required. To make a reservation, call the park office at (509) 439-9032. Please leave a detailed message with your party size, the dates you have in mind, your name and phone number. If a ranger does not return your call, call the office again. Do not come for a tour without verbally confirming with a ranger that your reservation has been made. It is advisable to reserve at least two or three weeks in advance, as tours are limited to 25 people and fill up fast. For additional information on the pictographs tour, visit the FAQ page.

The She Who Watches tour takes 90 minutes, then it’s a 2 ½ hour drive from there to LIGO, so if you plan to do this on Saturday, you will arrive in time for the 3:00 LIGO talk and the 3:30 walking tour, if you’re really up for two walking tours in one day.  

Whatever opportunities you avail yourself of, this promises to be a very nice weekend.

*Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, at Hanford, WA.

** If you prefer to stay in a motel, there are several options in both Benton City and Richland, both very close by.

Earlier Event: October 6
RCA Rooster Rock Star Party
Later Event: October 15
New Member Orientation