Palomar Observer Travel
Palomar Observatory is located near the Cleveland National Forest on Palomar Mountain in North San Diego County. Our street address is:
The following are a collection of travel resources for Palomar observers and visitors.
Most observers/visitors will be driving themselves to Palomar. This Google Maps link will do a good job of providing directions (see the "Get directions" link). If you find yourself needing more driving information, please see our Palomar Driving Directions page.
IMPORTANT: the roads to Palomar, Highway 76 and South Grade Road (S-6), can be difficult during and just after rain and/or snow events. Road closures and rock/mud slides are possible at these times.
For current road conditions:
Please note that many online and GPS programs can give incorrect directions for reaching the Observatory. Roads like Nate Harrison Grade and anything labelled a "truck trail" are not passable by ordinary vehicles. One happy exception is the Google Maps link cited above.
If you would rather not drive yourself to the observatory, we have identified a number of shuttle/towncar providers who can serve travellers arriving at either Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) (roughly 135 miles to the Observatory) or San Diego Airport (SAN) (estimated 80 miles to the Observatory). Typical per-mile rates quoted to us are approximately $3.50/mile + gratuity.
Please note that shuttle service information is provided for the convenience of our observers, and that the inclusion of these links do not constitute an endorsement of these providers or their services by Caltech or Palomar Observatory.
Our full-service observers dormitory (food and room included) is called "The Monastery." If you already have a Monastery account with us, you can book your Monastery reservations on-line from the Palomar Observer Login Page.
If you don't have an account in the Monastery system, our Observatory Administrative Assistant Pam Thompson (phone 760-742-2100) can assist you in making Monastery arrangements. Please note that reservations booked less than one week in advance will be assessed a late fee.
Monastery check-in is handled at the Monastery itself. Visitor keys are available at check-in time.
Meals are included in your Monastery stay; most special dietary requests (e.g. vegetarian, vegan) can be accommodated. Please make your preferences known when you book your Monastery reservation.
First-time observers may find the full-size Palomar campus map PDF helpful in finding your way around the Palomar site.
At the Monastery male observers have priority for the "standard" rooms (i.e. those with shared bathrooms—rooms 1-8). Female observers and observatory engineering visitors have priority for the single-occupancy, private-bath rooms (rooms 11 and 12). Priority for the two multiple-occupancy rooms (rooms 9 and 10) is given to official, designated guests of the Observatory. The Observatory Director's office will attempt to make advanced reservation for the multiple-occupancy rooms as necessary, but we ask that our Monastery guests observe these priorities.
Occasionally alternative accommodations are necessary or convenient; in these circumstances please consult the actively updated list of Palomar Rentals.
Outside normal business hours (typically weekdays 9a–4p) access to the Observatory compound is protected by a security gate. Gate access instructions are available through the Palomar Observer Login Page or from our Observatory Administrative Assistant Pam Thompson (phone 760-742-2100).
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