Driving to Palomar Observatory
The Observatory is located near the Cleveland National Forest on Palomar Mountain in North San Diego County at an elevation of 5,500 feet above sea level.
Street Address :
35899 Canfield Road
This Google Maps link will do a good job of providing custom directions (see the "Get directions" link).
If the Google link above doesn't help, please use the directions below:
To reach Palomar from the LA or San Diego areas, exit Interstate 15 at state highway 76 eastbound. Follow the signs to Palomar Mountain. Twenty five miles from the interchange, County Road S-6 (also known as South Grade Road) exits (5 miles past Valley Center Road) in a "Y" to the left and climbs to the Palomar summit. S-6 ends at the Observatory gates.
To reach the observatory from the Palm Springs Area take Route 74 west to 371 south, then Route 79 east & south (toward Indio), then Route 76 west to S7 up to Palomar Mountain and after 11 miles on S7 bear right onto S6 another 4.5 miles to the Observatory parking lot.
Sorry, but no overnight parking is permitted at the observatory.
We have road maps to help you find your way here:
Enter the left-hand gate and park in the Visitor's Parking Lot. As you walk up the path to the 200-inch dome, the visitors center and gift shop will be on your right.
- County Road S-6 is a typical mountain road with many curves. Please drive carefully. Watch for fog, fallen rocks on the road, especially during and immediately after rainfall. Travel on Highway 76 & South Grade Road (S-6) may be difficult during and just after rain events. Road closures and rock/mud slides are possible at these times.
- Winter storms usually mean snow and icy conditions on Palomar
generally, in these circumstances, tire chains are required by the
Highway Patrol. Again, please drive with caution.
The observatory is open daily except December 24 and 25. Visiting hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. while we are on Standard Time and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. while we are on Daylight Savings Time. The change to new visiting hours is made the Monday after the time change.
The observatory will be closed if travel or other conditions are hazardous. Whenever possible our Public Information Recording phone number- (760) 742-2119-will be updated to reflect any closures.
Visitors should be aware that we may close the observatory to the public due to weather or other unforeseen conditions without advance notice.
Palomar Observatory makes every effort to inform the public of our visitation status. Due to the uncertainties of our mountain environment, road condition and our complex operations supporting our research mission we can not guarantee that information presented on our website or phone informations system will be accurate at the time when visitors arrive at our facility.
Visitors to the observatory should be aware that dramatic changes due to weather such as ice, wind, fog and road debris is location specific and general information supplied by state, federal and local agencies may not reflect conditions near or at the observatory.
Visitors are strongly urged to pay close attention to signs indicating the observatory's closure to visitors that may be posted on the bottom of South Grade Road (S-6), East Grade Road (S-7) and as the S-6 "summit" location approximately 4.2 miles south of the observatory.
For road conditions :
- Visit :
The California Environmental Resources Evaluation System (CERES)
- Contact Caltrans (California Department of Transportation)
For more information please visit their web site http://www.dot.ca.gov
- CHP Traffic Incident Information Page - Click on San Diego for local incidents
- San Diego County Department of Public Works Valley Center
(This number is only available Monday - Friday from 7 am - 4 pm)
- Visit :
- There are no service stations on Palomar Mountain. Check your fuel before driving to the observatory.
- Approximate driving times (non-rush hour) to the Observatory are:
From the Los Angeles area - 3 hours From downtown San Diego - 2 hours From Escondido - 1 hour From Temecula - 1 hour