How do I get there?
Access to the Observatory is through Fort Knox State Historic Site, off Route 174 in Prospect. When you stop at the gate and purchase your Observatory tickets, you’ll get a campus map that directs you right to the Observatory parking area. There are rest facilities right there if you need them before your visit.
Why are there fees for the Observatory? Isn’t this a public bridge?
The Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory is certainly a public structure, but the actual cost of operating the observatory will be met through visitor fees. Those costs include utilities, service and safety contracts, and labor costs for observatory attendants. We’ve worked hard to make sure that the Observatory Fee is affordable. PLUS, the fee gets you admission to one of Maine’s most famous historic sites – Fort Knox.
Why can’t I use my State Park Season Pass for admission to the Observatory?
Your state park season pass (or your Senior Citizen Pass) will get you admission to Fort Knox State Historic Site, but you’ll be asked to pay a small additional fee to visit the Observatory. Again, this is because the Observatory is a joint project of the Departments of Transportation and Conservation, and fees pay costs directly (they do not go into general state revenues).
Can school groups get in free?
Again, school groups will not pay admission fees to Fort Knox, but will be asked to pay the Observatory fee. This is also true for other groups and organizations that are exempt from state park day use fees.
What about Disabled Veterans?
Under Maine law, disabled veterans arriving at Fort Knox in vehicles displaying the Maine Disabled Veteran License Plate will not be charged for admission to the Fort or the Observatory.
Is the Observatory Accessible?
The Observatory meets all the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and is fully accessible for persons with mobility restrictions. Interpretive assistance is available for the visually impaired.
How tall is the Observatory?
There are three decks to the observatory. The top deck sits 437 feet above the Penobscot River, or about the height of a 43 story building. It’s a long way down!
Are there stairs we can walk up?
No, public access to the Observatory is restricted to the elevator. Evacuation stairs are provided only for emergencies.
What’s the observatory like?
There are three decks in the Observatory offering views in every direction. The elevator stops on the lowest deck, and stairways lead up to the other two decks. The observatory is fully enclosed in special safety glass, but there is no heat or air conditioning. If it’s a cool day, plan to wear a coat, and if it’s windy, you’ll probably feel a breeze. If you have any trouble with stairs, a vertical lift connects the elevator deck with the top deck. While you’re there, check out the beautiful inlaid bronze compass rose on the top deck. And check out the view!
How far can I see?
The view, of course, will depend on weather conditions and the direction in which you are looking. Under good conditions, the view will extend out 15 miles or more in some directions.
How long does it take to go up in the elevator?
Maine’s fastest and tallest elevator will be traveling about 50 feet per second, so the ride will take about 50 seconds. Fast, eh?
Ticket Fees Schedule (.pdf format)