Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club
Kitt Peak National Observatory
west of Tucson
July 8, 2006: Trip Report


The Kitt Peak Visitor Center offers three guided tours each day. Each tour lasts approximately one hour. The tours begin in the Visitor Center with a brief introductory discussion. Following the discussion, the walking tour to the telescope begins (see the schedule below). The telescopes are up to 1/2 mile away from the Visitor Center.
  1. McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope: 10:00 AM
    The first tour each day is of the world's largest solar telescope, the McMath-Pierce solar telescope.

  2. 2.1-m Telescope: 11:30 AM
    On this tour you will visit one of the early workhorses of Kitt Peak. Built in 1964, the 2.1-m telescope is still in high demand every night.

  3. Mayall 4-m Telescope: 1:30 PM
    This telescope has been a landmark in since 1973, and is easily visible from many points in Tucson. The 4-m is the largest optical telescope on Kitt Peak, and receives 4 times more requests for use than there are clear nights each year. From the Visitor Gallery you have a beautiful 360 degree view of Kitt Peak and surrounding landscape. Tour lasts approximately 1.5-2 hours.
We will have a picnic lunch at one of the picnic tables in the observatory compound in-between tours. Bring a pack lunch enough for yourself plus some knick-knacks to share with others.

Depending on the group’s decision, we may have dinner after the tour in a restaurant in Tucson.
Comfortable walking shoes
At least 3 liters of water and lunch
Rain poncho
Hat, sunblock, sunglasses
distance ~4 miles of on-pavement walking around the observatory
time 6 hours on observatory plus 6 hours round trip driving time
EC not much elevation change
elevations The summit of Kitt Peak is at an elevation of 6,875 feet.
on trail 100% — All paved walkways.
hike rating "C" [easy]
dogs Dogs are allowed as long as they are leashed. Please pick up after your pet. Only service animals are permitted in the buildings.
weather Tucson
cost There is no charge to visit the Observatory, but donations (to the Observatory) are accepted. The recommended donation is $2/person. The club allows voluntary contributions (to the club) of $1/member or $3/non-member. Riders, please share gas expenses with the drivers.
    6:15 AM in the parking lot south of Einstein Brothers Bagel Shop on the SE corner of 48th Street & Ray Road, west of I-10: see map.
    We need to meet early since it will be a 3 hour one-way drive to the observatory and we want to make it to the 10:00 AM guided tour. We will meet at 6:15 AM with a prompt departure time of 6:30 AM.
    Carpooling arrangements will be made there. For those leaving their vehicles behind, please park up against the west curb of the parking lot and not in the Einstein’s common parking area.

    We will drive to Tucson, south on I-10 (I-10 East). From I-10 in Tucson, take I-19 South. Less than 1 mile is Ajo Way/Hwy 86 (Exit 99).
Take this exit West (right). Proceed past Ryan Airfield and Three Points.
Continue until Junction 386 (Kitt Peak turnoff). Turn left onto 386. The Kitt Peak Visitor Center is located at the summit (12 miles). There is ample parking for cars, RV's, and busses.
    Additional directions: Kitt Peak Visitor Center.
    Note to drivers: It’s a long drive, please make sure to fill up your gas tank.

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updated July 19, 2006 © Copyright 2006, Arizona Trailblazers.  All rights reserved.