Located on the summit of Mount Wilson above Pasadena at an altitude of 5715 feet, Mount Wilson Observatory is visible from much of the Los Angeles area. Free of charge, visitors can view the historic Hooker 100-inch telescope from the Visitors’ Gallery inside the dome. Those purchasing tickets for the 11:30 a.m & 1:00 p.m. Weekend Guided Tours (which are available Saturdays and Sundays from March 3oth to November 29), are admitted to the telescope floor directly beneath the 100-inch Telescope,  the 60-inch Telescope dome, and the 150-solar Telescope Tower (unless our solar astronomer is unavailable). These tours are about two hours. (On rare occasions, one of the telescopes may be closed due to special events or maintenance.) Free of charge, there is also a small Astronomical Museum on the observatory grounds, the CHARA Interferometry Exhibit, and great hiking.

Hours: From March 30 through November, the observatory is open to visitors everyday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During the winter months (December through March), the grounds open at ten everyday and close at 4:00 p.m. On weekends during the regular season, the observatory gates open earlier at 8:30 a.m. No vehicles will be allowed to remain within the observatory gate after closing, so please plan accordingly if you visit.

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 printable PDF map with directions here.

The Cosmic Café sandwich shop, located in the Pavilion above the main parking lot, serves fresh-made sandwiches and other treats and souvenirs on Saturdays and Sundays, March 30 through November, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Parking: A U.S. Forest Service Adventure Pass is required to park at the Observatory, as it is located on U.S. Forest Service land. A day pass may be purchased at the Cosmic Cafe on weekends between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Other times, the $5 day pass or the $30 dollar annual pass may be purchased at many locations around Los Angeles before you head up.  Click here to go to the U.S. Forest Service website for more information about the Adventure Pass and where to buy them. The website has a place to enter your location to search for nearby vendors. The Shell station in La Canada at the bottom of the Angeles Crest Highway should be selling them as well.

Warning: Some features on newer vehicles may not work properly due to the high radio frequency interference near the broadcast towers.  Common problems include non-functioning locks, alarms, and keyless ignitions.  Older Tesla vehicles (model S) have been the most prone to this disabling interference.  Do not set your alarm when near the towers.  Consult your owner’s manual for an override procedure before you have a problem.

Tours

Weekend Public Guided Tours

This year, Docent-led walking tours of the observatory take place on Saturdays and Sundays from March 30 – November 29. The two hour tours depart at 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. sharp from the Cosmic Cafe located above the large parking lot at the entrance to the Observatory. A special feature of these tours is entrance into both the 60-inch and 100-inch telescope domes, as well as the observing room of the 150-foot Solar Tower Telescope.  On rare occasions, a telescope may be closed to the tour due to a special event or maintenance.

Tour tickets are available for same-day purchase at the Cosmic Cafe. Tickets are $15 (adults) and $13 (ages 12 and under & 62 and older). Tickets for the early tour (starting May 5th) may be purchased at the Cafe, but note that their food service does not start until 9:00 a.m.

Purchasing Tickets

Tickets are $15 (adults) and $13 (ages 12 and under & 62 and older). Tour tickets are available for same-day purchase at the Cosmic Café, and rarely sell out. If you want to avoid the small risk of not getting a ticket, you can pre-purchased tickets via the website up until the end of the day before the tour. For each tour, 15 spots are available for pre-purchase.

Click here to buy tour tickets online for the date and time you wish. Please note that these tickets are non-refundable and cannot be transferred to another date.

If you have a large group, we urge you to opt for a private tour instead. These can be arranged by sending an email to tours@mtwilson.edu

Children under age 6 are not permitted. The tours involve about a mile of walking and climbing some stairs. Please read the Health Notice in the information tab.

 

Children under age 6 are not permitted. The tours involve about a mile of walking and climbing some stairs. Please read the Health Notice in the information tab.

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Self-Guided Tour Info

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.

Private Group Tours

Private 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 (email: tours@mtwilson.edu ) for more details and a private tour request form. Private tours are held in the daytime only and do not include looking through a telescope.

STEM Educational Programs

Regular private tours are available for school groups, but we also organize STEM Educational Programs with astronomers from Carnegie Observatories and JPL going into more detail on some of basic science underpinning Mount Wilson astronomy. For more information on these programs, please contact Jessica Rodriguez at (571) 762-5850 or by email at stemed@mtwilson.edu

Cosmic Cafe

Saturdays & Sundays, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, March 31 through December 2

Come up the mountain for a wonderful lunch in an incomparable setting

Mount Wilson Observatory’s Cosmic Cafe Cafe offers a variety of fresh-made sandwiches and other treats and souvenirs to visitors to the Observatory. The Cafe is located in the Pavilion overlooking the large parking lot at the entrance to the Observatory. A map and driving directions to Mount Wilson Observatory are available here. Weekend tour tickets are also sold at the Cafe.

The Cafe is a welcoming and refreshing destination at the end of the road or the trail for hikers and bikers as well as for those who wish to discover the wonders of Mount Wilson Observatory from the comfort of their automobiles following a memorable trip through the Angeles National Forest. U.S. Forest Service Adventure Passes are available at the cafe during our weekend business hours.

We have a new menu this year, free Wi-Fi, and other amenities to make your visit more pleasant! So come see us on Mount Wilson where all your purchases help preserve this world famous Observatory.

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Poster by Shauna Summers
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.