Kitt Peak National Observatory website
Planning Your Visit to Kitt Peak
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About Kitt Peak
Kitt Peak is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm. The visitor center closes at 4 p.m. Grounds close promptly at 4. The Kitt Peak Visitor Center is CLOSED: New Years Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day only.
Kitt Peak is at an elevation of 6,875 feet above sea level. Mountain temps vary considerably from the desert floor by 15 to 20 degrees and it is often windy, so please dress warmly. For your comfort, the visitor center is heated and cooled during the summer.
Those visiting at night for the Nightly Observing Program please be advised that the conditions, especially in the winter, require you to wear hats and gloves. Please feel free to bring a blanket as most of the program occurs outdoors in a non-heated observatory.
The Drive up
The drive up the mountain is all on paved roads at a constant grade with guardrails in most places. The 12-mile drive takes you through some of the nicest scenery the Sonoran desert has to offer. There are plenty of pullouts to take photos if you so wish. Please follow the speed limit and watch for road hazards such as rocks, cattle, or wildlife. The road is maintained by the State of Arizona and is on tribal lands. Allow 90-minutes of driving time from downtown Tucson.
AZ-86 has a Border Patrol checkpoint. If you are visiting from outside the US please bring your passports to expedite the process. The checkpoint is eastbound so you will need your papers when you head back.
The picnic area is open from 10 am to 4 pm and is located about 1 mile from the summit. The area needs to be reserved for large groups by calling 520-318-8600. Facilities include a ramada, restrooms, picnic tables and water. There are also picnic tables found on the summit for the general public to use. No open fires of any kind are allowed. The area is closed from time to time for maintenance and high fire danger. When planning your visit always call ahead to see if the facility is open. There are no cooking facilities found at the picnic area.
There is ample parking for cars and RV’s and buses.
The Kitt Peak Visitor Center offers three guided tours each day. Each tour lasts approximately one hour. The tours begin in the Visitor Center. A self-guided walking tour map is available at the Visitor Center.
There are no services found on Kitt Peak. The closest gas can be obtained at the Coyote Store 16 miles from the summit on state route 86. A pay phone, public restroom, and a number of water fountains are located on the summit.
Snacks and beverages may be purchased at the Visitor Center. There are no food services found on the mountain. Feel free to pack a lunch since there are plenty of picnic tables on the summit and a picnic grounds 2 miles away.
The visitor center gift shop houses a wide selection of Tohono O’Odham baskets and crafts at excellent prices. We also have a large assortment of Astronomical items, books, images, and souvenirs.
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