The Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope

Winter Driving on Mt. Graham

This message is for all UA Employees, Contractors, Observers and Visitors traveling to Mt. Graham Observatories during winter months. Eric Buckley, Director, Mt. Graham International Observatory (MGIO) defines winter months beginning when ADOT locks the gates ~ November 15, and ending when gates are unlocked ~May 15.

In the winter of 2015-16 Mt. Graham Observatories received over 94 inches of snow. Unlike the popular Mt. Lemmon highway, the road to Mt. Graham is steep, narrow and has over twenty hairpin turns. Mt. Graham is a remote location with fewer travelers and sparse cell phone coverage. Help may be hours away if you become stranded. These are all good reasons to contact MGIO for weather conditions and check in at base camp to pick up a radio for the journey.

Departing for Mt. Graham? Your Travel Check List must include:

    • MGIO Orientation Packet
    • 4-wheel drive vehicle with high profile (minimum 8 inch clearance)
    • Snow chains (these cannot be purchased in Safford)
    • Survival Gear that each vehicle should carry
    • Winter clothing, food and water for each person
    • Knowledge of the procedure for approaching the snow plows and graders
    • Stay in the middle of snow plowed roads as the edges are soft and you will get stuck
    • No night driving and convoy in groups
    • Check in with MGIO at base camp for radio
    • Driving awareness of snow removal equipment (operators cannot hear you and MAY not see your vehicle)

    Best Regards,

    The Steward Observatory Safety Committee

Contact Us

Richard P. Boyle, S.J.
VATT Telescope Scientist

Tel: +1 (0)520 621 3230


Christopher J. Corbally, S.J.
President of the National Committee to IAU

Tel: +1 (0)520 621 3225