Daytime Guided Tours

Reservations are required for all programs. Check the calendar for program offerings and start times. Please note: McDonald Observatory is located 450 miles west of Austin and is on Central Time.


A Guided Tour typically lasts 1.5 hours and begins with check-in at the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center. Participants drive their own vehicles to the summits of Mt. Locke and Mt. Fowlkes where the research telescopes are located. RVs and vehicles pulling trailers are not allowed to travel to the summits and we are unable to provide transportation. Please plan appropriately. 

All tour activities take place outdoors. A guide will discuss the history of the Observatory and the large telescopes from outside the domes. Participants will stand at the highest point on Texas highways, enjoy 360 degree views of the surrounding region, and learn more about our telescopes and the current cutting-edge research done here. Please note that there is no access inside the domes or viewing through telescopes during the Guided Tours. 

The Visitors Center facilities are wheelchair accessible. On Mt. Locke, the walk from the parking area to the summit is short but somewhat steep. The portion of the tour that takes place on Mt. Fowlkes involves little walking and is flat.

In this aerial view, the two large domes in the foreground are the 2.1-meter Str

Aerial View of McDonald Observatory