• Caitlin McAninch

A Visit to the Top of the Washington Monument



It’s easy to fill up your to do list when traveling to Washington DC. There is so much to see and do, and best of all, most of it’s free. Going up into the Washington Monument was high on my ‘DC Bucket List.’ So when the day came that I was able to head up that high elevator, I was stoked.

I’ve said before that no building in Washington DC is taller than the Capitol, but I guess I lied because the Washington Monument is really tall. It is a giant obelisk that watches over the city. Just checked Wikipedia, and it’s the tallest obelisk and tallest stone building in the world, standing at 554 feet.

Small History Lesson

They began building the structure to pay tribute to George Washington in 1848, but eventually ran out of money to continue building so by 1854 construction stopped. When they started up again 23 years later they used a different shade of marble, which is why almost half way up it switches colors. I learned during my visit that the government actually reached out to the states during this time asking for money. Some states weren’t really rolling in the dough back then, so sent other offerings instead. For example, Alaska sent a giant block of jade worth a couple hundreds of thousands of dollars, so that too is now apart of the building.

Washington Monument Tour


When it’s your set tour time, you join a group of about 15 and go into an elevator within the monument, and head straight up, no stops, no lights.

Once you do stop, you come out into a dark sort of cold stone room with four sides. Each of these sides has two small windows to peek out of. Out of each window you get absolutely incredible views of the city:

Facing North: the views are of the White House,




Facing East: the views are of the National Mall, the Smithsonian Museums and the United States Capitol Building.


Facing South: the views are of the Tidal Basin, Virginia and the Jefferson Memorial.




Facing West: the views are of the reflecting pool and the Lincoln Memorial.



Great views, huh? I also was very lucky because I was going almost right as the sun was setting, so the lighting on the city was beautiful.

Once you’re finished looking out all the windows, there’s really nothing else to do. So you head up these small stairs to another small room where you enter the elevator and head back down!

The difference going down is they actually have lights on. You can see tons of different stones that have been carved into. These are like the ones I mentioned before that were donated from other states, groups and even other countries to help complete the building.

Even though it is an extremely short tour, it’s so worth it. The views of the city are amazing. Unfortunately, construction has started up on the elevator and the tour is on pause until 2019. So, just wait a few years before you go to DC I guess!

Here are some of my favorite photos of the Washington Monument that I’ve taken over the years. It’s just such an awesome building!




Washington Monument

Distance: 2,610 miles

Driving Time: 1 day 13 hours

#Activities #EastCoast