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 when available. 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.

The observatory is open to visitors every day from 10 AM to 5 PM. 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.

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 10:00 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.

Warning: Some features on newer vehicles may fail to 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 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

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. During peak summer months (June-August), there is an additional, shorter one hour tour, at 2:00 p.m.

A special feature of the 1:00 tour (when available), 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 and Sundays from June 1 – Aug 31.

Tour tickets are available for same-day purchase at the Cosmic Cafe. Tickets are $15 (adults) and $12 (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 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. Groups can also place an order in advance for box lunches from our Cosmic Cafe for any day of the week.

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 a more detail on some of basic science underpinning Mount Wilson astronomy. For these, please contact Dan Kohne at stemed@mtwilson.edu

Cosmic Cafe

Saturdays & Sundays, 10 am – 5 pm, April through November

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 heritage-class 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.