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McDonald Observatory

Certificate of Excellence
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Address: 3640 Dark Sky Drive, Fort Davis, TX 79734-1337
Phone Number:
+1 432-426-3640
10:00 - 17:30
Open now
See all hours
Sun - Sat 10:00 - 17:30
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours

The McDonald Observatory Visitors Center staff appreciate all of the...

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.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 944 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 705
  • 165
    Very good
  • 44
  • 13
  • 9
Don't hesitate to do the day tour

I think we enjoyed the day tour more than the star party, but both are good. Live images of the sun and tour of telecopes were great. Also, enjoyed the stories about the... read more

Reviewed 2 days ago
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944 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 936: English reviews
Level Contributor
126 reviews
62 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

I think we enjoyed the day tour more than the star party, but both are good. Live images of the sun and tour of telecopes were great. Also, enjoyed the stories about the property over the years. Don't miss if you are in the area.

Thank darwinmoore
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
60 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

We had scheduled a day tour and also the night Star Party. This was such a memorable day and night. Our tour guides we just outstanding. The star party was out of this world. We saw the Milky Way, so many constellations, and it was so informative. Don't miss it. Make sure you dress warmly for the night. And make... More 

Thank askittl
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
103 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 days ago NEW via mobile

The McDonald Observatory has been a place I've dreamed of going to- and I finally made it. We attended a stargazer party- book in advance! They sell out. Our night was clear. Fyi, you are outside- plan what you wear accordingly. They give you an overview then there are stations to go to and view different things- Jupiter, galaxies, stars.... More 

Thank wakelang
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
8 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviewed 5 days ago NEW

I had no idea that there were so many types of telescopes and that they are used for more than just viewing stars!

Thank melbaustin
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
173 reviews
54 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 days ago NEW

The Observatory is a long way from anywhere for good reasons - it's DARK. If you are a casual tourist vaguely interested in the heavens or a PhD in astrophysics, this is the place for you. The staff are willing to go where you want to go intellectually - it's part of the Observatory's mission. Be sure to go online... More 

Thank John H
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Level Contributor
238 reviews
99 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 week ago

The star party was booked during our one night stay in Fort Davis so we took the Solar tour during the day. It was wonderful; very interesting. Our guide, Judy, had a very entertaining and informative delivery about the history of the Observatory. First she showed us the (clouded over) sun and in spite of the not optimal sky, she... More 

Thank Lynn A
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

Skies were not completely clear the night we visited for a star party, but still a great show was put on with interesting talks and views both through telescopes and with the naked eye. Absolutely worth a visit! Only disadvantage was that it was too short... I could have gazed at the stars for hours. There were some lines at... More 

Thank Anne T
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Level Contributor
100 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 week ago

On our way from El Paso to Big Bend, we decided to visit McDonald Observatory. Since it was during a full moon, we chose to forgo the Star Party. Would loved to have gone to the Party. We visited the Visitor's Center and learned that there was a tour we could get onto. We jumped at the chance. The 'tour'... More 

Thank MikeB1952
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviewed 1 week ago

Make sure you reserve early as star parties frequently sell out. Also consider more specialized events if you are more than a novice stargazer. Great gift ship with unusual items.!

Thank Bennett J
Level Contributor
172 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

The staff are very knowledgeable and helpful. We really enjoyed the star party. All the telescopes were cool. We were able to see moon very well lit since it was only about 4 days before the full moon. If you're looking to see the Milky Way, schedule your trip closer to the new moon. The almost full moon really washed... More 

Thank AvengerD3

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Questions & Answers

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Typical questions asked:
  • Do I have to buy a ticket for my infant?
  • How do I get there using public transportation?
  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?