LIGO Hanford (LHO) occupies very different surroundings than the damp greenery of LIGO Livingston! This rooftop panorama shows miles of flat shrub steppe that surround LHO on all sides. The flatness, isolation and quiet seismicity of this location create a helpful environment for LIGO science. The most clockwise arm of the detector (the X arm) points west of north. Out of view, the Columbia River parallels LIGO's X arm before curving southward as it flows through the Tri-Cities.
The H1 detector's Y arm points toward one of the few topological features in the photo, Rattlesnake Mountain. 3500 feet in elevation along the tallest portion of its ridge, locals contend that Rattlesnake Mountain is the tallest tree-less mountain in the western hemisphere. LIGO certainly can corroborate the absence of trees. The LIGO Hanford complex contains the only trees for miles in any direction, making it a popular location for a variety of birds.