Planning Your Visit With Us

Learn how to find us, how to prepare for a safe and comfortable visit, and understand our environment. The Kitt Peak Visitor Center is your first stop on any visit and your springboard to informative daytime tours, nighttime stargazing and telescope viewing programs, fascinating exhibits, a terrific gift shop, and beautiful panoramic mountaintop views!


Hours of Operation

The Visitor Center is open from 9:00 AM to 3:45 PM for daytime visitors and tours.

We are closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. We may also be closed due to unforeseen circumstances of weather or technical difficulties. Please call before ascending the mountain.

Weather varies with the seasons and is typically 15 to 20 degrees cooler at elevation than in Tucson. Dress appropriately and bring layers of clothing.

Visitors are not permitted on observatory grounds after 4pm unless registered for an evening program.

Admission Costs

Admission is free to the Visitor Center as well as to the observatory grounds during the normal hours of operation.

For information about our daytime tours, please click on the button below.

Daytime Programs

For information about our nighttime programs, please click on the button below.

Nighttime Programs

Directions

Kitt Peak is located at the top of route 386 on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 56 miles outside of Tucson. Coming from Tucson, take route 86 (Ajo Way) west to the junction of 386. Make a left hand turn at the sign and follow the road to the top of the mountain. Please see the Google map for additional information and directions to Kitt Peak Visitor Center.

The public parking area is near the front of the Visitor Center for both day and evening programs.

RVs may not park overnight on observatory grounds.

Visitors are not permitted on observatory grounds after 4pm unless registered for an evening program.


Weather On for Kitt Peak

Weather Information

All Visitors Are Expected To Follow The Observatory Rules Found Here

Kitt Peak Rules

Tohono O'odham Nation

Kitt Peak National Observatory is privileged to be permitted to occupy the top 300 feet of one of the most important mountains in the cultural heritage of the Tohono O'odham Nation. It is extremely important that all NOAO employees, visiting observers and dignitaries, tenants, and visitors respect this cultural heritage at all times.

All day, evening, and special programs are free to members of the Tohono O'odham Nation except the Overnight Telescope Program (OTOP).

Accessibility, Elevation & Health

Kitt Peak is just shy of 7,000 feet (2,133 meters) above sea level at the summit. Please be aware of any potential health issues that could arise from the altitude or walking at this elevation such as: decreased lung capacity, cardiac issues, or other issues with altitude. If you have health concerns, please consult your doctor before visiting us.

If you have special physical challenges or limitations, please contact us as far in advance of your visit as possible. The Visitor Center’s ability to provide special accommodations is severely limited. For specific accessibility information regarding daytime and evening programs, please refer to those pages.

If You Are Not a US Citizen

Although the Visitor Center is open to all, the US Government requires passports or green cards for visitors from other countries when driving eastbound through the Border Control check point on Arizona State Route 86. Please be sure you bring your passport with you in order to avoid difficulties. .

Services (Gas, Lodging, Food, Camping)

There are no gas stations, restaurants, or hotels on Kitt Peak. Be sure to have a full tank of gas in your car and bring your lunch if you believe you will get hungry. There are snacks and drinks for sale in the Visitor Center during regular hours of operation. Meals for evening and overnight guests are provided as part of the program. There is no overnight camping near the peak, and no overnight parking on Observatory property.

Fire Danger

Fire is an enormous danger to life and property on this mountain. All smoking is prohibited while on Kitt Peak, both indoors and outdoors. Please report any indications of smoke or fire to any personnel you see so they can take appropriate action. Follow all directions issued to you by Kitt Peak Staff in the event of a fire.

Cell Phones

Cell phone use is prohibited for calls and data transfers. Please place cell phones in “AIRPLANE MODE” or turn them off completely while visiting the observatory. Kitt Peak is home to two large, highly sensitive radio telescopes that are performing scientific research 24 hours a day, and the cellular signal can disrupt this research. No Wi-Fi is available.

Photography (Tourist & Professional)

Visitors are welcome to photograph objects of interest while on the mountain. The Tohono O'Odham people regard the surrounding terrains to be of significant cultural importance and request that visitors refrain from photographing those areas. When in doubt, please ask for assistance.

Professional photographers must first secure permission from the Kitt Peak Director's office before photographing on Kitt Peak. Please click the link below to submit a media request.

Media Requests

Pets & Service Animals

Pets and service animals are permitted with certain restrictions. It is illegal to leave a pet unaccompanied in a vehicle in Arizona for any length of time. Pets may accompany you while on observatory grounds, but are not allowed in buildings and must be on a secure leash and under your direct control at all times. Clean up after pets and be aware that you will be responsible for any damages it causes. If you have a service animal, please be prepared to offer proof of its status as a service animal.

Watch for Animals & Rocks

Please be on the alert for roaming wildlife and livestock both while driving and during your visit including mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, bears, deer, skunks, spiders, and snakes. Do not feed, pet, or otherwise approach or disturb any wildlife as these animals may be dangerous, and report any wildlife spottings to mountain personnel.

Livestock ranges freely around the lower portions of Rte. 386 and Rte. 86 and may cross the road in front of you. Rocks sometimes fall from cliff faces and can be big enough to damage your car. Please be alert at all times and drive at or slower than posted speed limits.


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