Cyclists, hikers, and amateur astronomers are welcome at FLWO, and may traverse the mountain road to 12km, making use of trails and the astronomy vista located along the way. There is no stopping on Mt. Hopkins Rd. for any reason, except at obvious side-of-the-road pullouts. This curved road with many blind spots sees regular traffic both day and night from observatory staff, researchers, and construction crews.
No public traffic is allowed past the locked barrier gate at 12km, as this could endanger the safety of researchers, telescopes, scientists, and you. Please note and adhere to the "no trespassing" sign at this location. No exceptions will be made.
The only public restrooms for cyclists, hikers, and amateur astronomers are located at the Whipple Nature Walk Trailhead outside of the gates to the Science Center and administrative buildings at the base of the mountain. Water here is untreated and it is not advisable to fill drinking water at this location; as such, the water fountains have been turned off. Please pack all required water for your trip. For questions, please contact the Nogales Ranger District of the U.S. National Forest Service.
Amateur astronomers are encouraged to use the Astronomy Vista, located roughly 1.5km up Mt. Hopkins Rd. after the wash on the left. Parking is on the right. There are no public restrooms at this location.
Health & Safety Notices
- Elevation: The summit elevation of Mt. Hopkins is 8,550 feet. Persons with health concerns affected by high altitude should consult a physician before embarking on activities at Mt. Hopkins.
- Physical requirements: The nature of Mt. Hopkins requires some strenuous uphill travel for those on foot or on bicycle. Please consult with a physician before embarking on activities at Mt. Hopkins.
- Weather and road conditions: Tours may be cancelled at any time due to poor weather or road conditions if safety is a concern. If weather seems poor on the day of your tour, please call in advance of travel.
- Lighting: There is no outdoor lighting surrounding the Observatory to protect dark skies and preserve research. Night and early morning visitors are encouraged to procure appropriate RED LIGHT lighting as headlights, bicycle lights, and flashlights are highly discouraged.
- Road condition: The road from the Visitor and Science Center is a single-lane dirt road with no guard rails up to the gate at 12km. Persons unaccustomed to traveling on mountain roads of this type should carefully consider whether to travel this road. There is no public traffic allowed past the locked gate at 12km.