Night Sky Images at Winchester Lookout

The Winchester Mountain Fire Lookout is located in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, along the Mount Baker Highway. This is one of the few remaining lookouts in Washington. Most of them were removed, but several are now maintained by local alpine clubs. The Mt Baker Club does a fantastic job of caring for and maintaining the Winchester lookout, you can donate to their efforts here.

During the summer the lookout is open to the public, you can day hike up and spend the day there, or if you’re inclined, you can spend the night. There are no reservations, its first come, you got it for the night. If you hike up and the lookout of already claimed for the night there is plenty of flat space nearby where you can pitch a tent.

I have hiked up and spent the night atop Winchester Mountain 5 times, three of those trips I slept in the lookout, and 2 times I camped in my tent. Basically, if you want to sleep in the lookout, go on the weekdays and go very early. And bring a tent or a bivvy sack just in case! Oh yes, and bring all your water, there is none there, nor along the hike.

The view from the lookout is unbelievable.

As you can imagine the night sky views are fantastic. To the south and east the darkness is almost complete. The western horizon is aglow in the direction of Vancouver to the north, Bellingham to the west and Skagit Valley south.

These 4 images were taken during the same evening. Check out the green aurora glow!

During the same night, a view of Mount Larrabee from Winchester.

Here is one more for good measure. Good luck and happy shooting! I may see yo there.

If you’re interested, Night Sky Photo Tours are available, you can find out more here. 

Recent Night Sky Images

Over the past 3 weeks I have visited the Pasayten Wilderness, the Glacier Peak Wilderness, Winchester Mountain Lookout (twice), Artist Point – for a North Cascades Institute Class and the Diablo Overlook – for a North Cascades National Park  class.

The Glacier Peak trip was not during ht e new moon, but I was able to get a few good shots early in the night, before moon rise. I was out working to capture an image of the tent at Upper Lyman Lake, with the Milky Way behind, over Spider Gap. I could clearly hear and animal sniffing around. It was a deer, come to find place where anyone peed, to lick the spot for any lingering salt.

I decided to see if I could capture the deer in the image, and it worked pretty well!

The Winchester Mountain Look out is a perfect place to spend the night and shoot night sky images…

The Night Sky Photo Class that I lead though the North Cascades Institute was held at Artist Point. There were 14 of us, we parked at the Artist Point rest area and started to hike to Huntoon Point. There were more than 50 other night sky photo enthusiasts there, all out along the same trail! We asked and were told that they were all from Vancouver, BC! The skies got cloudy, but we managed a  few shots.

The last class was on Aug. 1st, another Night Sky Photo Class, this one through the North Cascades National Park, as a part of the NPS Centennial. About 15 people arrived and we hung out at the overlook, trying to learn the basic tools of night sky capture.

There are two New Moons in September, on the 1st and 30th! If you’re interested in a Night Sky Photo Tour, here are the details!