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“Experience some of the darkest night skies in the country!”

McDonald Observatory
Ranked #1 of 12 things to do in Fort Davis
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: The McDonald Observatory Visitors Center staff appreciate all of the positive reviews (and even some of the negative ones, too!) that well-meaning and well-intentioned visitors have left over the years. However, we feel that TripAdvisor does not provide anywhere close to the level of management tools needed to combat the misinformation that routinely is provided by, again, well-intentioned visitors to others visiting its pages. With no way other than the "management response" feature to cull and corral the sometimes wildly misleading information posted on these pages, we feel that using TripAdvisor for anything beyond getting the general feel of the establishment is pointless.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Wheelchair access, Food available for purchase
Reviewed 22 February 2010

A must-see if you are in the area! Try to attend a star party - great for both amateur astonomers to a family night out alike. The staff is enthusiastic and eager to answer any questions. All set in the fantastic Davis Mountains with views that take your breath away. The day program may be a bit long for younger children, but this is a unique experience for all.

Thank Unbeatenpath
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"night sky"
in 111 reviews
"solar viewing"
in 73 reviews
"star parties"
in 83 reviews
"twilight program"
in 54 reviews
"laser pointer"
in 38 reviews
"star gazing"
in 44 reviews
"daytime tour"
in 22 reviews
"cloud cover"
in 19 reviews
"new moon"
in 21 reviews
"naked eye"
in 16 reviews
"green laser"
in 13 reviews
"clear skies"
in 16 reviews
"clear night"
in 23 reviews
"star clusters"
in 37 reviews
"light pollution"
in 21 reviews
"solar system"
in 28 reviews
"outdoor amphitheater"
in 17 reviews

1,026 - 1,030 of 1,048 reviews

Reviewed 9 October 2009

Just returned from a special viewing night. Always a terrific experience.
This time we stayed at the astronomers' lodge and got on the big 'scope. (you have to be a "friend of the mcDonald", $75 per yr with other benefits)
Neat people, great view up on Mt Locke, and reasobale accommadations.
If you're into stars, sky, milky way, peaceful and relaxing, its a great trip.
Not so great if you're the go-go-go type.
For me, I just wish it was easier-faster to get here.

Thank HOUAP6804
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 July 2009

The daytime tour is okay, definitely worth the money and you've gotta do it to see the incredibly cool telescopes and learn about the technology that makes them possible, but the real magic happens at night- tuesday, friday and saturday they have "star parties" where you go at night and look through telescopes.... but you don't really have to use the telescopes because the night sky is just GORGEOUS and it looks like you can see every single star- we even saw the milky way! incredibly inspiring. I really want to go back!

Thank oodleday
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 June 2009

Well, I've either been close to McDonald Observatory, or camping at Fort Davis, and unable (because of time) to go to the Observatory. It is amazing! It is the greatest! I just wish we didn't have cloud cover, we did (when the clouds broke) get to see Saturn. I was disappointed that we didn't get to look throught the 84 or 102 scopes :( There is another (more wonderful) telescope viewing area...Brazos Bend State Park, and the University of Houston, Nasa lets you get up close and personal to the planets. Opps back to McDonald....the programs...and tours were wonderful.

1  Thank OneSoaringSpirit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 6 June 2009

If you have a vivid imagination when Cowboys & Indians existed or love to read books with peace & serenity this is the right place to be. I have been to McDonald Observatory Big Bend National Park 3 times they are so close in range and it never fails such a beauty just the view is like going into time with Indians and cowboys with Dean Martin and John Wayne. McDonald Observatory is such a beautiful place to educate and see the stars and the sky with so much peace & serenity. Prude Ranch is a place you want to stay while visiting McDonald Observatory. We took our RV during springbreak it was cool but there was an indoor pool but the kids still enjoyed the pool. Drive a little farther you have Bid Bend National Park there are log cabins to enjoy they are awesome to stay the view of the stars are beautiful from the reef it seems you can reach for the stars and grab them. Not to far is also the Marfa Lights no matter how far you drive you can never reach the lights. This is the town that Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson made the movie Giant. There are also a Ghost town with antique everything from the cowboys and Indian times saloons where shootings existed, stay in the upper rooms inside the saloon and have a vivid imagination of the cowboys mingling in the saloon there are huge cannons that you can hear whistle through the wind history markers has it that it is the Indians calling. You need to experience all this by yourself. Make sure your transportation is fit to drive not many car parts. This is the place to be away from the city to read a book with peace & serenity. To have a vivid imagination of cowboys & Indians. A place where the wild animal roar and hiking does exist.

2  Thank mem0ries
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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