PostHeaderIcon Solstice Park, West Seattle

The solstice is on its way! Although there may be celebrations and fun all over Seattle, there is at least one place where you can actually measure the astronomical significance of the longest day of the year: Solstice Park in West Seattle.

Solstice Park Overlook Credit: Jason Gift Enevoldsen

Solstice Park Overlook Credit: Jason Gift Enevoldsen

You’ve never heard of Solstice Park?

It’s been there since July 2005 – across the street from Lincoln Park, but I have to admit, I only just visited for the first time on Thursday. I loved it. At the top of the hill are stonework and earthworks aligned for sunset on the winter solstice, the summer solstice, and the equinoxes.

Sunset on June 11, 2009 Credit: Jason Gift Enevoldsen

Sunset on June 11, 2009 Credit: Jason Gift Enevoldsen

Credit: Jason Gift Enevoldsen
Sunset on June 11, 2009

As you can see, during this sunset the Sun isn’t setting quite perfectly above the summer solstice marker, and that’s because the photo was taken ten days before the solstice.

How to get there

Solstice Park is at 7400 Fauntleroy Way SW in Seattle. It used to be called “Lincoln Park Annex” and it still has six tennis courts right beside Fauntleroy, so that should help you find it. There are about 13 parking spaces on the south side of the park, and one handicapped spot at the end of a dead-end street near the top of the park.

Map of Solstice Park

Map of Solstice Park

Once you’re in the park there are trails that lead up to the overlook: you’ll walk past the tennis courts, through the P-Patch and continue on up the hill. When the trail ends go five more feet to enter the stonework circle and get the best views of sunset.

The trail up to the overlook, through the P-Patch

The trail up to the overlook, through the P-Patch

Stargazing

As of June 2009, the park is open from 4am to 11:30pm, giving you plenty of time for stargazing, unlike many city parks. If you’re looking for dark skies within the Seattle city limits, this is one of the better public places I’ve been to. The trails are unlit, and as long as you stay behind the middle of the overlook, the tennis court lights are shielded from view.
You have an almost perfect western horizon from south southwest to north northwest. The eastern horizon is blocked to about 35 degrees, but that helps cut out the light pollution from Seattle proper.

Want More?

Stop by Pacific Science Center and take a look at our sundial.

Where’d I Get My Info?

Solstice Park Official Website

A review by Nerd’s Eye View

~ A l i c e !

12 Responses to “Solstice Park, West Seattle”

  • Joan says:

    Solstice Park is truly a neighborhood gem. It’s one of the first places I discovered after moving here two years ago from the east coast. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got to the top! What a view.

  • GREG says:

    Great post, Alice. I live in West Seattle and had no idea this existed! Wish it were open a bit later…

  • alicesastroinfo says:

    Greg,

    Indeed. Those seem to be one of the sets of standard park hours at this time. I’d also believe those are the summer hours. At least it no longer says “dusk till dawn” on most parks!

    Here’s the February 2009 Operating Hours proposal, which has some explanations of why.

    I’m looking for more 24-hour parks in Seattle, so far I’ve found:
    Atlantic City Boat Ramp, 8702 Seward Park Ave. S
    Green Lake Park, 7201 E Green Lake Dr. N
    Kerry Park (Franklin Place), 211 W Highland Dr.
    Myrtle Edwards Park, 3130 Alaskan Way W
    Stan Sayres Memorial Park, 3808 Lake Washington Blvd. S
    Eddie Vine Boat Ramp, 8001 Seaview Ave. NW
    Lake Washington Boulevard, Washington Park to Seward Park
    Wallingford Steps, Wallingford Ave. N Street End at N 34th St.
    Queen Anne Boulevard, Encircles Queen Anne Hill
    Sunnyside Ave N Boat Ramp, 2301 NE Northlake Way

    Actually, that’s some good information, I’m going to cross-post that over on my Seattle Stargazing page.

    I’m curious, do you have any good suggestions for North/Northeast facing horizons? I was thinking something on the southern side of Lake Washington might have a pretty flat horizon. I’d like to be able to give a recommendation for Perseid viewing.

    -Alice

  • I grew up close by and never knew about this until today-
    how great! We’ll check it out on a sunny day.

  • Matt Crowley says:

    Thanks for the wonderful website! I knew of the tennis courts and the garden, but not the park. Very nice place to watch the sunset.

  • Vicki Pardee says:

    Are there any tennis lessons or play schedules for the courts at Solstice Park?
    I am Beg/Int, need to play/learn more. Thank you!

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