MWO founder George Ellery Hale atop Mt. Wilson, 1904 Huntington Library


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Tours and Visiting Information

Located on the summit of Mount Wilson above Pasadena at an altitude of 5715 feet, the Observatory is visible from much of the Los Angeles area. Visitors can view the historic Hooker 100-inch telescope from the Visitors' Gallery inside the dome. Those purchasing tickets for the 1 pm Weekend Guided Tours, are admitted to the telescope floor directly beneath the 100-inch. There is also a small Astronomical Museum on the observatory grounds. The Cosmic Cafe sandwich shop, located in the Pavilion above the main parking lot, serves fresh-made sandwiches and other treats and souvenirs on Saturdays and Sundays, April through November, from 10 am to 5 pm.
Date and hours for visiting
The observatory is open to visitors every day from 10 AM to 5 PM from April 1 through November 30, weather permitting. The gate into Skyline Park and the observatory's buildings are closed to the public during the winter season, although special group tours can still be requested (see below). Weather conditions may occasionally result in unscheduled closures.

Access to Mount Wilson is via the Angeles Crest Highway (CA Hwy 2) from the 210 Freeway at La Canada Flintridge. You can download a map with direcions here.

Regular Weekend Guided Tours
Docent-led walking tours of the observatory take place on Saturdays and Sundays during Apr 1 - Nov 30. They depart at 1:00 pm sharp from the Cosmic Cafe located above the large parking lot at the entrance to the Observatory. A special feature of these tours is admission to the area directly beneath the 100-inch Telescope rather than a restricted view from the visitors gallery in the dome. A shorter tour that does not provide entry to the telescope, leaves the Pavilion at 2:00 pm sharp on Saturdays from June 1 - Aug 31.

Tour tickets are available for same-day purchase at the Cosmic Cafe. Tickets are $10 (adults) and $8 (ages 16 and under & 62 and older). Children under age 6 are not permitted. The approximately 2-hour tour (1-hour for the 2 pm Saturday tour) involves about a mile of walking and climbing some stairs. Please read the Health Notice above.
Self-guided tour brochure and map
Print your own brochure for a self-guided tour and map of Mount Wilson. A 13-page "Visitors Guide" is available for purchase at the Cosmic Cafe and provides for a particularly fine self-guided tour experience.
Specially Arranged Tours
Special guided tours may be arranged by individuals or groups in advance. A modest per-person fee is charged. More information is available here. Please contact Mr. Gale Gant for more details and a special tour request form. Special tours are held in the daytime only and do not include looking through a telescope. Groups can also place an order in advance for box lunches from our Cosmic Cafe for any day of the week.
Health & Weather Notices
The high elevation of the Observatory (5715 ft) and the change in elevation during the approximately one-mile and two-hour long tour are unsuitable for individuals with respiratory and heart problems or with limited mobility. The century-old facilities are not ADA-compliant and, except for the Astronomical Museum and the Cosmic Cafe, offer no access to those who cannot climb multiple flights of stars. Thus, tours of the Observatory, either guided or unguided, are inappropriate for some elderly people and for those who are not in good health. Visitors should take these factors into consideration before touring the Observatory.

Weather conditions in the mountains can vary greatly and change suddenly. Be prepared for any weather conditions including snow and local dense fog. The weather is often much different on the mountain than in the city below. A live image from the observatory, update every four minutes, can be seen from the Towercam. Remember that conditions on the mountain may change from what you see on the Towercam.