I had the privilege of visiting the telescope during an employee family day. The sheer size and functionality of the Large Binocular Telescope is incredibly impressive. This is not a telescope you get to look through to view the stars. The data collected by the telescope is sent to computers for the researchers to do their thing with it. The facility has living quarters for researchers as they come from across the globe.
We got to stand in the telescope chamber as the operator opened the top/sides of the building for that night's work. The entire chamber spins 360 degrees so we got a spectacular view of the valley and mountains. The operator also maneuvered the very large mirrors so we could see how they work. The whole thing was quite impressive.
While I took my 7 year old son along, I would not recommend a trip up the mountain solely to visit the observatory for young children. My son enjoys learning about the "technical" aspects of things so he thought it was great. But it is a very long drive for kids who need a place to run and interactive activities. If you are on the mountain for hiking, camping, etc, I would recommend a tour of the observatory even with children. As another reviewer mentioned, you must schedule a tour ahead of time.
Remember that you will be at close to 10,000 ft in elevation. The air is thinner and it can be quite chilly, even when it is in the 90s in the valley. A good portion of the drive to the observatory is a dirt road. It is easily driven with any vehicle, but be aware that is will be slow going. Also, if you are driving on the mountain at night, keep an eye out for deer. We had 3 dart in front of us as we were driving down after our tour.
While the tour itself is not very long, the drive up and back will take up a good portion of the day. Overall, I would highly recommend visiting the observatory if you have an interest in science and technology. Have a picnic, take a hike and enjoy the area.
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