Kitt Peak National Observatory is closed to visitors

We’re aware that many people are eager to come visit Kitt Peak by car, bicycles or even on foot. The public Arizona State Route 386 up to Kitt Peak National Observatory is still closed by ADOT while it makes necessary repairs to the road and guard rails after damage from the Contreras Fire. For this reason, all public programs and tours, including online workshops, at KPNO are suspended due to the effects of the Contreras Fire on the site. 

Arizona State Route 386 up to KPNO remains closed to the public. Do not travel up this road for any reason or by any means. Access is limited only to staff and contractors due to safety concerns related to missing road guardrails, rapidly occurring rainfalls, and fire debris runoff during the monsoon season. 

Together with the Arizona Department of Transportation we continue to work to make the site safe so public visits can restart. We hope to have news about the reopening of the visits in December 2022. Please revisit this website periodically for updates.

Nightly Observing Program

The Nightly Observing Program offers guests an introduction to the dark night sky above Kitt Peak after they watch a glorious Arizona sunset from nearly 7,000 feet above sea level. The program features the use of planispheres and binoculars for identifying constellations, bright stars, and the brighter deep-sky objects. Guests will also spend an hour at the telescope, exploring the night sky for spectacular celestial objects.

The program requires a minimum of 4 guests and concludes approximately 3 ½ hours after sunset.  The program is designed for adults and older children. It is not recommended for children under 8 years of age. Please read the information below before making your reservation.

Online Reservations

$55.00 per person.  Reservation may be made on-line up to the day before the desired program date.  Please select your date carefully and enter your information accurately.  Once your reservation is submitted, you will receive a confirmation e-mail. 

Your reservation may then be changed only by calling the visitor center reservation desk at (520) 318-8720 or 8739.

Call-in reservations

$60.00 per person.  Reservations made on the day of the program must be made by phone or in person.  This fee applies to any reservation made by phone or in person for any date.  Guests making reservations after 1:30 P.M. on the day of the program will not receive a meal because the kitchen requires a final meal count by that time.  The program fee is the same.

To call in a reservation, call the visitor center reservation desk at (520) 318-8720 or 8739.


Cancellations less than 24 hours prior to the program will incur a $25.00 per person late-cancellation fee.  No-shows will be charged the full program fee.  You may cancel your reservation without charge up to 24 hours prior to your program by calling (520) 318-8720 or 8739.

Credit Card

The card number you enter will hold your reservation but will not be charged without your permission.  Payment will otherwise be made in full upon your arrival at the visitor center on the night of your program.


Discounts are available in the Nightly Observing Program for seniors 62 and older, active duty military with ID, and students with ID.  Discounts are not available for our other programs.

How to dress

Bring warm clothing.  It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.  You will spend much of your time outside.  Temperatures on Kitt Peak are often 15 to 20 degrees cooler than temperatures in Tucson.


The observatory typically used for the NOP is handicapped accessible.  Reaching the telescope eyepiece, though, could be difficult for guests restricted to wheelchairs.  The other visitor center observatories, those used for our small-group programs, are not wheelchair accessible and may present difficulties to other types of mobility devices.  Our programs typically involve walking, standing, and climbing stairs.  Working service animals are welcome.


The program includes a light meal, and you may choose either a turkey (regular) or vegetarian sandwich.  If you have dietary restrictions, you are welcome to bring your own meal.  The kitchen cannot guarantee gluten free, allergen free, or otherwise specially prepared meals.  The program fee is the same in either case.


Guests will receive a call at about noon on the day of the program to advise them of the weather forecasts and program status.  Please be available.  If weather might prevent observing, we will offer the Alternate Astronomy Program (AAP), which includes some of the activities of the NOP plus other engaging hands-on activities and possibly a tour of one of the research telescopes not typically open to the public.  In the event of unfavorable weather, guests will be given the option of attending the AAP or rescheduling for another date without charge.  The programs will be cancelled entirely only if conditions are deemed by the staff to be hazardous.  

We do not offer refunds or rain checks for weather conditions other than expected or that change suddenly and limit our use of the telescope or otherwise interfere with any of our nighttime programs. The weather call is based on information available at the time of the call.

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