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Mount Graham International Observatory


The Mount Graham International Observatory (MGIO) is operated by Steward Observatory, the research arm for the Department of Astronomy at The University of Arizona. The MGIO consists of three telescopes: the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, the Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter (Radio) Telescope of the Arizona Radio Observatory, and the Large Binocular Telescope, the world’s most powerful telescope. The high-tech mirrors of the VATT and LBT were cast at the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab.

The Discovery Park Campus at the Eastern Arizona College is the official vistation agent for MGIO.  Public education outreach visits are conducted by advance reservation, from May through October, weather permitting.

The visits feature a 40-mile trip to the MGIO site near the summit of scenic Mt. Graham and focus on the mountain’s rich history, geology, and diversity of life. The cool mountain air and a delicious sack lunch at the U.S. Forest Service’s Columbine Visitor’s Center will energize you for the guided walk through these three Observatory facilities.

Advanced reservations are a necessity, because we are limited in the number of persons permitted to travel up the mountain on any one visit.


To make early reservations or for further information, please contact:

Eastern Arizona College's
Discovery Park Campus

1651 W. Discovery Park Blvd.
Safford, AZ 85546
Phone: (928) 428-6260



The Educational Outreach Visit ...

We conduct MGIO education outreach visits each Friday and Saturday that the US Forest Service states the mountain is open for travel. We require a minimum of six people for a program to run. Please book your visit as early as possible to insure space is available for your family or group. Two weeks or more advance notice is preferable.

Plan to arrive at the Discovery Park Campus – Gov Aker Observatory at 9:00 AM the day of the tour. History and ecology of the mountain and the astronomy activities on the mountain are presented in a brief orientation. The tour van leaves the campus at about 9:30 a.m. and returns about 4:30 p.m. Lunch is included in the ticket price of $40 per person. Some suggested items you may want to bring include:


  • A jacket or sweater (cooler at high elevations)

  • Comfortable closed-toe walking shoes

  • Lip Balm (very dry at altitude)

  • Sunscreen

  • Sunglasses

  • Hat

  • Camera / Film

  • Dramamine, if needed (mountain roads)

  • Aspirin

  • Bottle of water

Because of the altitude (over 10,500 feet) and the “thin air,” this visit is not recommended for those persons who may have a heart condition or respiratory problems. Children must be at least 8 years old and well supervised.

Please note: As per University of Arizona and Arizona Board of Regent's policy 5-303, the Mount Graham International Observatory is a Weapons Free Zone.


Medical Information

Although the EAC Discovery Park Campus (DPC) and the Mt. Graham International Observatory (MGIO) make every effort to make sure the educational outreach visits are safe and comfortable, all interested parties are STRONGLY WARNED that the MGIO facilities are at extremely high altitude (10,400 ft. / 3,200m) and it is necessary to walk moderate distances and climb several sets of stairs, and also includes standing in place for extended periods for information at these altitudes.

It is strongly recommended that those with the following conditions should not participate in the visits, but take advantage of the gallery exhibits and short video about the Large Binocular Telescope available at no charge at the EAC Discovery Park Campus:

  • Any diagnosed Medical Condition - requires a signed Doctor's Release

    • Chronic Respiratory Disorders

    • Asthma

    • Chronic Obstructed Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

    • Emphysema

    • Chronic Bronchitis

    • Congenital Heart Disease

    • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

    • Abnormal Heart Rhythm – Arrhythmia

    • Pregnancy

  • ANY Need for assistive devices to walk

  • Difficulty in egress/exiting the rear seats of a standard 12 to 15 passenger van.

Please carefully consider if you have any condition that may hinder your visit of the telescopes at the Mt. Graham International Observatory. Standard protocol at MGIO for any individual who experiences a medical concern and requires any medical interventions - including the use of Medical Gas (supplemental oxygen) - is immediate direct transport to the nearest Emergency Medical Center (Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center in Safford, Arizona) at your expense.