We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

McDonald Observatory

3640 Dark Sky Dr, Fort Davis, TX 79734-3010
+1 432-426-3640
Website
Share
Save
Review Highlights
Seeing Stars!

Now if you want to go stargazing this is the place for you. It has the darkest skies in the US and... read more

Reviewed today
mrsdrcomez
,
Waldorf, Maryland
Hidden gem!

Booked a star party and enjoyed every minute of it. We were shown the constellations and got to... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
BookwormBabe
,
Weatherford, Texas
Read all 1,115 reviews
Map
Satellite
Map updates are paused. Zoom in to see updated info.
Reset zoom
Updating Map...
Overview
More
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.
  • Excellent77%
  • Very good17%
  • Average4%
  • Poor1%
  • Terrible1%
Travellers talk about
“solar viewing” (77 reviews)
“laser pointer” (39 reviews)
Closed Now
Hours
Hours Today: 10:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Suggested Duration: 2-3 hours
LOCATION
3640 Dark Sky Dr, Fort Davis, TX 79734-3010
CONTACT
Website
+1 432-426-3640
Write a ReviewReviews (1,115)
Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
Language
All reviews
"solar viewing"
in 77 reviews
"twilight program"
in 57 reviews
"laser pointer"
in 39 reviews
"large telescopes"
in 33 reviews
"new moon"
in 23 reviews
"cloud cover"
in 19 reviews
"naked eye"
in 17 reviews
"clear night"
in 26 reviews
"green laser"
in 13 reviews
"clear skies"
in 16 reviews
"star clusters"
in 38 reviews
"day tour"
in 27 reviews
"solar system"
in 28 reviews
"outdoor amphitheater"
in 17 reviews
"milky way"
in 42 reviews
"light pollution"
in 21 reviews
"bring a jacket"
in 19 reviews
Filter

1 - 10 of 1,103 reviews

Reviewed today

Now if you want to go stargazing this is the place for you. It has the darkest skies in the US and hosting stargazing parties weekly. There is a museum, cafe, and gift shop to explore. The museum is not large but enough hands on...More

Thank mrsdrcomez
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 week ago

Booked a star party and enjoyed every minute of it. We were shown the constellations and got to view the rings of Saturn and Jupiter's moons through the telescopes

Thank BookwormBabe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 week ago

Friends had told us that a Star Party was a wonderful experience, but my husband and I did not enjoy it at all. Not knowing what to expect, we felt the introduction was too brief and we were never told how the evening would work,...More

1  Thank travgal0766
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

We're sorry the Star Party didn’t live up to your expectations, and we sincerely wish it could have been different for you. The normal course of the Star Party has the event beginning with a rather lengthy and detailed introduction where the schedule is explained,...More

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
See more reviews
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

The Observatory was worth an extra night's stay! Even with 300 people in attendance for the Star Party, the staff did an amazing ushering guest throughout a series of telescopes. We got there early and had a bite while watching the sunset. Get to the...More

Thank Liz B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

Sounds like you had a great time and played it smart too! Timing is everything and your seeking out the smaller scopes with shorter lines first is a great way to get the most out of the Star Party. Thanks for checking out the Star...More

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

My husband and I attended the star party during our visit to Ft Davis. An incredible experience!! A must for young and old alike! Be sure to take a nap because it’s a late night affair ( of course!) we are looking forward returning soon!

1  Thank pamela5008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

Thank you for visiting the McDonald Observatory, we appreciate your kindness and hope to see you again soon!

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

A great celestial experience learning about the night sky. The schedule is very well planned and balanced to accommodate for attendees' preferences. The introduction about the program is informative. The telescopes are easily accessible and the staff managing them are very informative and friendly. You...More

1  Thank Z3724ZFnicolasg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 3 weeks ago

Thank you for visiting and taking the time to leave such a great review!

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

We got the star party tickets and arrived to the observatory with lots of expectations and let me tell you, the staff exceeded our expectations. They set up telescopes along a trail and we were able to observe different objects: Venus, Jupiter with the 4...More

Thank dallashiker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 3 weeks ago

Thanks for the high praise, our staff always appreciates seeing positive feedback like this! Come back and see us again soon!

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Staff is well versed and clearly like what they do. Sky is amazingly dark out here and the Milky Way is clear. I don't know if I have ever seen so many stars in my life. The best part was the guide pointing out constellations....More

Thank seekingrainydays
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 3 weeks ago

Thanks for checking out the Star Party! For future guests, the lines for telescope viewing can be quite long indeed, but they tend to move fast. If you don't want to wait in line, there are usually at least a few of the outdoor scopes...More

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

We took a daytime tour and were presented with more information than I wanted to know about those telescopes. A lot of numbers will run through your head. Still I learned some science “stuff” and a bit of history of some astronomy tools. The children...More

Thank Tracy L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 3 weeks ago

Thanks for taking the time to review your visit to the McDonald Observatory!

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Really good, informative program. Very helpful , excellent staff. This is a jewel of Texas and well worth the effort to go. The Star Party was everything I hoped it would be. We went last Saturday night during a new moon, which I recommend, so...More

Thank JimSTex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 3 weeks ago

You picked a great night for a Star Party, with no moon and several planets, thats about as good as it gets in my opinion! For future guests, please consider the sky is different from night to night, so depending on the moon phase, the...More

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nearby
Nearby HotelsSee all hotels
San Solomon Spring Courts
24 reviews
37.24 km away
The Hotel Paisano
531 reviews
40.91 km away
Hotel Saint George
346 reviews
41.12 km away
Thunderbird Hotel
171 reviews
41.38 km away
Nearby Restaurants
Stone Village Market
332 reviews
16.07 km away
Blue Mountain Bistro
365 reviews
16.08 km away
Stellina
89 reviews
40.99 km away
Fort Davis Drug Store & Hotel
775 reviews
16.06 km away
Nearby Attractions
Balmorhea State Park
286 reviews
37.04 km away
Balmorhea Rock Shop
7 reviews
43.69 km away
Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center & Botanical Garden
223 reviews
16.07 km away
Ask a question
Questions & Answers
Mangesh N
12 August 2018|
AnswerShow all 3 answers
Response from McDonald_Obs | Property representative |
"Planet-Fest!" is what we're calling this period when Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter are all placed favorably in the sky during the time the Special Viewing occurs. The last "Planet-Fest!" happens on September 11th, after which... More
0
Votes
McKinney70
22 June 2018|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from MisterTravel1000 | Reviewed this property |
Dress warm. It can be cold up there at night - even in summer.
1
Vote
John R
9 April 2018|
AnswerShow all 8 answers
Response from McDonald_Obs | Property representative |
I'd say it's worth it, but I might be a little biased as an employee at the Visitors Center. The 36" can certainly provide some great views when the sky conditions allow. We try to show the widest possible selection of... More
1
Vote