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.