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.

Daytime Activities Nighttime Programs

Learn how to find us, how to prepare for a safe and comfortable visit, and understand our environment.  

The Kitt Peak Visitor Center is your first stop on any visit and your springboard to informative daytime tours, nighttime stargazing and telescope viewing programs, fascinating exhibits, a terrific gift shop, and beautiful panoramic mountaintop views!

Kitt Peak Visitor Center (520) 318-8720 or (520) 318-8739.

Kitt Peak Webcams

Hours of Operation

The Visitor Center is open from 9:00 AM to 3:45 PM for daytime visitors and tours. Visitors are not permitted on observatory grounds after 4 P.M. unless registered for an evening program. We are closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. We may also be closed because of unforeseen circumstances such as weather or technical difficulties.  Please call before driving to the mountain.

Weather varies with the seasons and temperatures are typically 15 to 20 degrees cooler than in Tucson.  Dress appropriately and bring layers of clothing.


Kitt Peak is located at the end of route 386 on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 56 miles west of Tucson.  Coming from Tucson, take route 86 (Ajo Way) west to the junction of 386. Make a left turn at the sign and follow the road to the top of the mountain.  Please see the Google map for additional information and directions to Kitt Peak Visitor Center.

The public parking area for both day and evening activities is near the Visitor Center.  RVs may not be parked overnight on observatory grounds.

Accessibility, Elevation, & Health

Kitt Peak is just shy of 7,000 feet (2,133 meters) above sea level at the summit. Please consider any personal health issues that could arise from the altitude or walking at this elevation, such as: decreased lung capacity, cardiac issues, or other issues with altitude.  If you have health concerns, please consult your doctor before visiting us.

If you have special physical challenges or limitations, please contact us as far in advance of your visit as possible.  The Visitor Center’s ability to provide special accommodations is severely limited.  This is particularly true for evening programs.  We cannot provide sign language interpreters for nighttime programs.  These programs run under extremely dark conditions.  For specific accessibility information regarding daytime and evening programs, please refer to those pages.

If You Are Not a U.S. Citizen

Although the Visitor Center is open to all, the US Government requires passports or green cards for visitors from other countries when driving eastbound through the Border Control check point on Arizona State Route 86.  Please be sure you bring your passport with you in order to avoid difficulties.

Gas, Lodging, Food, Camping

There are no gas stations, restaurants, or hotels on Kitt Peak.  Be sure to have a full tank of gas in your car and bring your lunch if you believe you will get hungry.  There are snacks and drinks for sale in the Visitor Center during regular hours of operation.  Meals for evening and overnight guests are provided as part of the program.  There is no overnight camping near the peak, and no overnight parking on Observatory property.

Fire Danger

Fire is an enormous danger to life and property on this mountain. All smoking is prohibited while on Kitt Peak, both indoors and outdoors. Please report any indications of smoke or fire to any personnel you see so they can take appropriate action.  Follow all directions issued to you by Kitt Peak Staff in the event of a fire.

Cell Phones

Cell phone use is prohibited for calls and data transfers.  Please place cell phones in “AIRPLANE MODE” or turn them off completely while visiting the observatory.  Kitt Peak is home to two large, highly sensitive radio telescopes that are performing scientific research 24 hours a day, and the cellular signal can disrupt this research.  No Wi-Fi is available.

Tourist & Professional Photography

Visitors are welcome to photograph objects of interest while on the mountain.  The Tohono O’Odham people regard the surrounding terrains to be of significant cultural importance and request that visitors refrain from photographing those areas.  When in doubt, please ask for assistance.

Professional photographers must first secure permission from the Kitt Peak Director’s office before photographing on Kitt Peak

Watch for Animals & Rocks

Please be on the alert for roaming wildlife and livestock both while driving and during your visit.  You might encounter mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, bears, deer, skunks, spiders, and snakes.  Do not feed, pet, or otherwise approach or disturb any wildlife as these animals may be dangerous.  Report any wildlife sightings to mountain personnel.

Cattle  and horses range freely around the lower portions of Rte. 386 and Rte. 86 and may cross the road in front of you.  Rocks sometimes fall from cliff faces and can be big enough to damage your car.  Please be alert at all times and drive at or slower than posted speed limits.

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