For Observers, Staff, and Contractors

For observers, staff, and contractors planning to visit MGIO, welcome!!

This page is a compilation of important information that will ensure that your visit happens as smoothly as possible. It is highly recommended that you print these documents, or save them electronically, so that you will have them with you during your visit. And, please be sure to read these in detail prior to your visit. If you have any questions, no matter how small, please contact us!

Start with the Orientation Package and Winter and Mountain Driving the keys to a safe and productive visit to Mount Graham -- please read in detail!...

Review the Visitor Safety page on this website. Your safety is important to us, and we have provided information that will be useful for a safe visit.

For each telescope it is your responsibility to check with and confirm room/lodging assignments. Contact the persons listed below either by email (click links below) or phone:

  • Large Binocular Telescope: (520) 626-5231
  • SMTO: Bill at (520) 621-5290
  • VATT:

All persons are required to carry on their persons at all times a United States Forest Service (USFS) permit to enter the observatory site. This U.S. Forest Service requirement is because the observatory site is within the refugium of the Mt. Graham Red Squirrel, an endangered sub-species. The Mount Graham Base Camp (MGIO) handles all permitting requirements for authorized guests, scientists and employees of the Observatory. The Forest Service requires 3 to 5 working days to issue the permit. Therefore, we request that you notify the Base Camp as soon as your plans are formulated. To be clear, the USFS issues you a permit. MGIO assists you by requesting the permit on your behalf. MGIO is unable to issue permits and so if you do not request your permit sufficiently in advance, your access to the observatories will be delayed. 

To obtain your permit, notify the Base Camp with the names of each person, their affiliation, and duration of visit. In turn, the Base Camp will request your permit from the Forest Service. A briefing paper concerning the Red Squirrel is to be read and signed prior to receiving the permit. Please note that during the public closure season (November 15th through April 15th each year) only employees, contractors and observers are allowed inside the red squirrel refugium. In other words, the Base Camp is unable to request permits for family members or members of the public during that time period.

All persons are required to stop at base camp, both on arrival and upon departure!

Prior to ascending the mountain, you must stop at the MGIO Base Camp to:

  • Sign the Logbook, or staff with assigned "Simple In/Out" must update their status to indicate on-site presence. Computer with Sign in instructions are available in the Admin Office.
  • Pick up key to the access gate.
  • Obtain a radio to be used to confirm clear access on the one-lane access road.
  • Must read and sign the Red Squirrel briefing.
  • Inquire about weather and road conditions.

Upon descending the mountain, you must stop at the MGIO Base Camp to:

  • Indicate in the Logbook that you have left the mountain or update Simple In/Out to indicate not on-site.
  • Return gate key and radio.

Each person is responsible for bringing their own food in ample amounts, which will accommodate his/her entire stay.

Each building is equipped with a full kitchen -- supplied with all necessary cookware, dishes, glassware and eating utensils. Basic condiments may be found in the kitchens. If you decide to leave food for someone else please label and date it accordingly. All food should be kept in cabinets, lockers or refrigerators. Preparation and clean up of meals are the visitor's responsibility.

Upon your arrival at the VATT, SMTO or LBTO, expect to find a clean facilityPlease sign in with your name and length of stay on the message board located at the entrance of the sleeping quarters. Each sleeping room is supplied with fresh linens, towels, paper products and soap. Extra blankets, pillows, linens, towels, paper products, and soap may be found in the room closet, as well as the storage areas in the hallways. If supplies are not found, please report to the custodian on duty or your site supervisor.

When your stay is over, please remove soiled linen & towels, place inside the pillowcase and deposit in hampers. In the VATT the hampers are located in the restrooms. At the SMT - there is a container under the stairway on the first floor. And at the LBT, just leave your "stuffed pillowcase" outside the door to your room. Please leave the door to your room open or the room will be considered occupied. Remember to vacate the room as early as possible, especially during busy observing runs to assure that the visitor that follows you has a clean room. Our housekeeping staff consists of four employees. Your cooperation is appreciated.