The Observatory is more than 20 miles from downtown San Jose along Mt. Hamilton Road at
an elevation of 4200 feet. The road follows a
gradual grade laid out over a century ago for horses and carts. It has many sharp curves
and is quite narrow in places.
At 4209 feet, weather on Mt. Hamilton may be cool and changable, so bring a sweater or coat. We do have wheelchair access to the main building from the back.
There are no gasoline or food services at Mt. Hamilton or anywhere along the road outside of San Jose.
During the winter the road may be closed temporarily due
to snowfall. For current road closure information, Visit the California Highway Information website and enter Hwy #130.
Directions to Mt. Hamilton
Lick Observatory is located on the summit of Mt. Hamilton in the Diablo
Range east of San Jose. To get there from Interstates 101, 280, 680, take
Alum Rock Avenue exit from Interstate 680 north. Turn right onto Alum
Rock Avenue. Take another right on Mt. Hamilton Road (California Route
130). Allow about one hour from San Jose, and please drive carefully
as the road is good, but winding.
From the east, take Interstate 580 west to Interstate 680 south. Then
follow the directions above. Alternatively, you may take take California
Route 130 to Mt. Hamilton from the east, but please allow about 1-3/4
hours from Interstate 5 to reach the Observatory. The road is long and
winding, but well-maintained. Take the Patterson exit off Interstate 5,
and go west on Puerto del Canyon Road (away from Patterson.) At the Junction
Cafe, turn left to stay on California Route 130.
Area map here
Local maps here
Print local map (pdf): from San Jose
For more details call 408-274-5061 or email email@example.com
Other Bay Area Astronomy
Light Pollution on Mt. Hamilton
How can the lighting needs of the Santa Clara Valley be met while preserving the position of Lick
Observatory at the forefront of astronomical research?
UCO home > Public Information > Visiting Lick Observatory
See Lick Observatory Visitor Center & Gift Shop Hours
Note: In winter, road to Observatory may be closed due to snow. Visit the California Highway Information website and enter Hwy #130 for current conditions.
More information: Lick Observatory Guides Office/Gift Shop: 408-274-5061 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Please DO NOT Visit at Night!
- Buildings are locked
and astronomers are working at the darkened telescopes. There is nothing to see
and nobody available to show you around.
- Telescopes require the darkest possible conditions to detect the faint light from celestial objects. The success of our work relies upon minimizing lights
around the observatory at night.
Things to Do During the Day
- View exhibits in the main Observatory building (see details below), built in 1888. Note the original oak and marble interior.
- Enjoy a short informal talk about Lick history while taking a look at the Great Lick Refractor in the 36-inch telescope dome (no charge). Talks begin at the Gift Shop, throughout the afternoon
starting at 1:00pm on weekdays and 12:30pm on weekends, continuing until 4:30pm.
- At the Gift Shop check out Lick Observatory sweatshirts, T-shirts, mugs, wineglasses, astronomical photos, posters, educational toys, and other astronomy-related goodies.
- Take a short walk to the Shane Dome to view the 120-inch Reflector from the Visitors’
Gallery. Displays explain the Shane reflector, one of the major telescopes used to discover extrasolar planets.
- Enjoy the view of the Santa Clara Valley from the parking lot at 4209 feet. Bring a picnic lunch to eat in your car. There are no food or gasoline facilities on Mt. Hamilton.
- Located in Lick Observatory's Main Building and open to the public during all business hours.
- Telescopes of Lick Observatory exhibit in the hallway features photos of both modern and historical Lick telescopes and their related instruments.
- Laurie Hatch's photographs of Lick Observatory are displayed in the gallery next to the Gift Shop in the Main Building. A selection of Laurie's postcards are available for purchase in the Gift Shop.