Visiting Lick Observatory



Domes of the Lick Observatory at Dusk

Travel Prepared

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 automative 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

Other Bay Area Astronomy

List of public astronomy programs in the San Francisco & Monterey Bay Areas

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

Visiting Hours

The Gift Shop & Visitor Center are open Thursday through Sunday from12 p.m. - 5 p.m. year-round.

Holidays: The Gift Shop & Visitor Center are also open on the following days: New Year's Day, MLK Day, President's Day, Easter Sunday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving Weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday only). The observatory is closed on Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Thursday, and Christmas Day.

More information: Lick Observatory Guides Office/Gift Shop: 408-274-5061 or

Visitor Activities

Current Exhibits

Please Do Not Visit at Night!