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.

VIP Tours

The Kitt Peak Visitor Center is proud to offer a new, not-to-be-missed, all-encompassing tour of Kitt Peak National Observatory! The special group tour is intended for any group with a desire to learn more in-depth knowledge of the historic and scientifically important observatories on Kitt Peak than the regular daytime guided tours offer.  The program requires extensive walking. Most facilities visited are not wheelchair-accessible. Which facilities are visited and in what manner may vary from month to month.

This program is free to members of the Tohono O’odham Nation.

Monthly VIP Tour

Every second Saturday of the month

The monthly VIP tour offers participants a unique opportunity to go behind the scenes at one of the world’s premier astronomical research facilities. Founded in 1958, Kitt Peak continues to be on the forefront of astronomical research and discovery. From the technologically groundbreaking McMath-Pierce Solar telescope, the historic dark-matter discovering 2.1-meter telescope, and the giant Mayall 4-meter telescope, VIP guests will experience Kitt Peak as few ever do. We will visit as many facilities as are available to us on the day of your tour but cannot guarantee any particular telescope or facility.

The VIP tour begins promptly at 10 A.M. and concludes at 3:00 P.M. Guests should wear comfortable walking shoes, and be able to walk the distances between the telescopes and climb stairs. Lunch is not provided so plan to bring a bagged lunch. Due to safety concerns, the minimum age for the tours is 15 years of age. Also, strollers or carry-on infants are not permitted. Tours are limited to 20 participants on a first-come, first-served, pre-registration basis.

Price: $49 per person.

Make a reservation online or by calling the Visitor Center reservation desk at (520) 318-8720 or (520) 318-8739

Private VIP Tour

Spanning 4 to 5 hours (depending on your schedule), this tour will cover the entire summit of Kitt Peak. 

These special Daytime V.I.P. Tours are by reservation ONLY.  Please try to schedule at least two months in advance to ensure your best chance to get the date you want.

Price: $49 per person ($490 minimum fee for groups fewer than 10)

Make a reservation by calling the visitor center reservation desk at (520) 318-8720 or 8739.

Terms and Conditions:

You may cancel at any time up to 48 hours prior to the tour date without any penalty. A $20 per person cancellation fee will be charged for those who cancel less than 48 hours prior. If we are forced to cancel the tour ourselves, you will not be charged anything. We reserve the right to cancel part or all of the program in the event of natural or man-made hazards, threatening weather, power failures, or other safety concerns.

Those who fail to show on the day of their VIP Tour without calling ahead to cancel (no show, no call) will be charged the full fee.
If a last-minute emergency or other situation comes up that prevents some or all of your group from attending, please let us know as soon as possible. It may save you some money, and will allow us to fill the empty space with others from our waiting list.

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. 

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