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National park tips: Before heading to the Washington Monument, make sure the elevator is working

The Washington Monument, seen here through a veil of spring cherry blossoms, stands near the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.
The Washington Monument, seen here through a veil of spring cherry blossoms, stands near the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.
(Carolyn Kaster / AP)

The good news is that there’s an elevator. In fact, the elevator is your only option if you hope to see the commanding view from atop the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. It zooms 500 feet up to the observation deck in about 70 seconds.

The bad news is that rangers have had a lot of trouble with the elevator lately, with repeated closures in August and a sustained closure through much of September. Before you show up, double-check the elevator status by calling this number: (202) 426-6841.

The monument, which opened in 1888, is 555 feet tall. It has no bathrooms.

On days when everything is working, free tickets are offered, first-come, first-served, at 8:30 a.m. each morning at the nearby Washington Monument Lodge on 15th Street. For advance tickets through recreation.gov, there’s a service charge of $1.50 per ticket.

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There is a stairwell with 897 or 898 steps, but it’s been off-limits to the public since the 1970s.

In honor of this year’s National Park Service centennial, the Travel section is posting 100 park travel ideas and tips based on trips staff travel writer Christopher Reynolds has taken, along with photo-op advice from Times photographer Mark Boster. We’ll post one per day through Dec. 31.

Follow Reynolds on Twitter: @MrCSReynolds

See travel videos by Reynolds from around the world.

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