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Directions to the Fremont Peak Observatory

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Introduction

The Fremont Peak Observatory is located within the Fremont Peak State Park. The observatory is the home of the 30-inch Challenger telescope. The Fremont Peak Observatory Association (FPOA) operates the observatory in co-operation with the California State Park service.

What is special about this observatory is its total commitment to serving the general public. The FPOA assists the park service by hosting public observing sessions on Saturdays from Spring thru Fall. During the week, the observatory is available to groups (clubs, schools, companies, scout groups, etc.) by request. Many thousands of park visitors have view their Universe thru this instrument.

NOTE: Some people find the printable FPO directions easier to print. We recommend that you review the current page first before printing the shorter directions.

Where is Fremont Peak?

Some people who live in the San Jose / San Francisco Bay Area might think that Fremont Peak is near the town of Fremont California. It isn't. Fremont Peak State Park is near the town of San Juan Bautista, south west of Hollister and south of Gilroy:

Large Scale map

Driving to the Fremont Peak State Park

SUGGESTION: If you have never been to the Fremont Peak State Park, we recommend drive there in the daytime. It is a lot easier to find the Park and Observatory during daylight.

NOTE: From San Jose, it takes about 90 minutes (depending on your speed and driving habits) to drive to Fremont Peak State Park. To be safe, plan on leaving San Jose 2 hours before Sunset.

From the San Francisco Bay Area, head South on 101 past Gilroy and turn East on 156.
From Monterey and parts south, head North on 101 and turn East on 156:

Medium Scale map

NOTE: To see an enlarged picture, just click on it!

Once you are heading East on 156 go about 3 miles, look for the Fremont Peak State Park Sign:

Fremont Peak 156E sign

Go to the traffic light and turn Right on The Alameda:

156E light 156E light #2

Once you are on The Alameda go about 0.4 miles to San Juan Canyon Rd.

NOTE: This 0.4 mile section is a little tricky. However, if you pay attention you won't get lost. Lets look at this part of the road in more detail. Here is a diagram of this 0.4 mile road section:


   ||
   ||
 Highway     San Juan Bautista
   101              ^
   ||               |
   ||               |
   ++<== 3 miles ==>+==== 156 East ======== ...
  //       ^        |
 //        |        |
//         |        |
           |   The Alameda
           |        |
           |        |
       0.4 miles    +----- San Juan Hollister Rd ----- ...
           |        |
           |        |
           |   The Alameda
           |        |
           |        |
           V        -+---- Mission Vineyard ---- ...
                   /  \.
                  |    \.
                  |  San Juan Canyon Rd
                  |     |
                  |     |
                  |     |
                        |
                        |
                        V
                    To Fremont Peak

As you drive down The Alameda road, you will go past San Juan Hollister Rd (going off to your left). Continue down The Alameda:

Alameda Alameda #2

Next you will approach an intersection of:

  • The Alameda (which we have been traveling on)
  • Mission Vineyard (which is a 90 degree left hand turn)
  • San Juan Canyon Rd (which is is a ``dog leg'' quasi-left hand turn)

Alameda Alameda #2
Alameda #3 Alameda #4

Make a dog leg quasi-left hand turn on San Juan Canyon Rd.
DO NOT turn full left on Mission Vineyard!!!

Tricky Intersection Tricky Intersection #2

You know that you are on the San Juan Canyon Rd if you see both a  NOT A THROUGH ROAD  and a  Fremont Peak State Park 11 MILES  sign within few feet from the intersection:

Tic Intersection #2 Tricky Intersection #3

You will travel along San Juan Canyon Rd for 11 miles. Along the way you will see:

Mtn Road Mtn Road #4
Mtn Road #5 Mtn Road #6

You still have 5 more miles of windy roads. Continue to drive with caution.

Mtn Road #7
Mtn Road #9 Mtn Road #10
Mtn Road #11 Mtn Road #12

Driving within Fremont Peak State Park

As you approach the park you will pass a  15 MPH  sign,  FEE AREA  sign and a  Fremont Peak State Park  sign:

In Park In Park #22
In Park #3 In Park #4

About 0.3 miles beyond the  Fremont Peak State Park  sign you will pass a gated road going off to the left. This is the road to the observatory that you will walk up. Do not drive up the observatory road, instead continue driving on the road you are on:

Park Map

In Park #5 In Park #6

Continue another 0.1 miles to the parking lot next to the camp ground:

In the park #7 In the park #8
In the park #9 In the park #10

The parking lot has a some signs, a pay station and a telephone. Please park here.

Parking lot Parking lot #2

Please support your park

While visiting the observatory is free, there is a fee for visiting at the park. The system park needs our support.

If you are just visiting the telescope, please pay the Parking Fee (which at the time this photo was taken was $3). If you are planning to camp, please pay that fee. The pay station is located at the parking lot, next to the pay phone:

Parking lot #3 Parking lot #4

Walking to the Fremont Peak Observatory

Once you have parked, walk 0.1 miles back down the same road to the gated road:

walking to FPO walking to FPO #2
walking to FPO #3 walking to FPO #4

As you walk around the gate and up the hill you will enter The Dark Zone:

PLEASE NOTE: At night, people are often are taking astronomical photos and digital images in this area. It will get very dark after sunset. The smallest amount of light from a flashlight can spoil hours of work. It can take as much as a hour for someone's eyes to recover from being flashed with a bright light. PLEASE BE CAREFUL WITH FLASHLIGHTS WALKING UP THE OBSERVATORY ROAD!
We recommend that you walk to the observatory during the daylight. If it is dark, you might consider staying at the parking lot and allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness before walking up the road. Better still, use a red flashlight or cover your flashlight with several layers of heavy red paper.
Above all be safe and walk carefully, but also try to be careful of the darkness. :-)

As you walk up a short road you will reach a flat area that contains the Ranger's house and workshop. This is the start of the The Dark Zone:

walking to FPO #5 walking to FPO #6
walking to FPO #6a walking to FPO #6b
walking to FPO #7 walking to FPO #8

At the end of the flat area you again walk up a short hill. Just before the hill on the left, you will pass the workshop and a then finally a small building. That building is the two sided rest-room / toilet / WC:

walking to FPO #10

Walk up the short hill to the Fremont Peak Observatory:

walking to FPO #11 walking to FPO #12

Walk around to the back of the observatory and enter. Enjoy your visit!

walking to FPO #14 walking to FPO #13


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