Penobscot Narrows Observatory –Frequently Asked Questions.
The Observatory is open 7 days per week from May 1st through Oct 31st. The hours of operation are:
9 A.M. to 5 P.M. from May 1st to June 31st
9 A.M. to 6 P.M. from July 1st to August 31st
9 A.M. to 5 P.M. from September 1st to October 31st
In order to ensure that visitors have ample time to visit the Observatory once they have purchased tickets, the last Observatory tickets for the day will be sold 23 minutes before the scheduled Observatory closing time. This would be 4:37 P.M. for the months of May, June, September, and October and 5:37 P.M. for the months of July and August.
From Belfast: Proceed north on US Rte 1, through Searsport and Stockton Springs, immediately before crossing the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, take a left onto Rte. 174. Fort Knox will be approximately 1/4 mile up on your right.
From Bar Harbor: Follow US Rte. 1 south across the Penobscot Narrows bridge, immediately adjacent to the town of Bucksport. Once over the bridge take a right onto Rte. 174. Fort Knox will be approximately 1/4 mile up on your right.
From Bangor: On Rte. 1A South....follow Rte 1A South through the towns of Hampden, Winterport, Frankfort and Prospect. In Prospect Center, take a left onto Rte. 174. Follow Rte 174 approximately 4 miles. Fort Knox will be on your left. On Rte 15 South....follow Rte 15 South through the city of Brewer and the towns of Orrington and Bucksport. In Bucksport, take a right onto US Rte.1 South and proceed over the Penobscot Narrows bridge. Immediately upon exiting the bridge take a right onto Rte. 174. Fort Knox will be approximately 1/4 mile up on your right
When you stop at the gate, purchase, and obtain your Observatory tickets, you’ll get a map that directs you right to the Observatory parking area. Once at the observatory parking area, it is about a 200' walk to the observatory elevator lobby. There are rest facilities at the lower parking lot by the observatory as well as next to the upper parking area by the Visitors/Education Center of Fort Knox.
The actual cost of operating the observatory is 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 one pays also gets you admission to one of Maine’s most famous historic sites – Fort Knox.
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. That cost is $2.00 for anyone ages 5-11 and $2.50 for anyone 12 and older. 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).
Maine school groups will not pay admission fees to Fort Knox (from September through June), but will be asked to pay the Observatory fee. The fee for the observatory is $2.00 for all school group members, ages 5-11 and $2.50 for all members of school groups 12 and older. This is also true for other groups and organizations that are exempt from state park day use fees.
Groups of 15+ may reserve and prepay for tickets in advance by calling 469-6553. In that these tickets are time stamped one should be certain of the time they plan on visiting the tower. We suggest that groups plan on visiting the fort and tower purchase their tickets for an hour+ after their planned arrival time at the fort. This allows groups the time to visit the restrooms, visitor’s center, hear a brief introduction to the fort and/or bridge and travel to the lower parking lot and observatory. Due to the lack of sidewalks on the road to the observatory we strongly recommend that students travel, rather than walk from the fort to the tower. Once your visit at the tower is complete, feel free to explore the fort at your leisure.
The Penobscot Narrows Observatory has a limited capacity of 49 persons, so all tickets are “time stamped” to help visitors avoid waiting in line. When you arrive at Fort Knox, the entrance booth attendant will tell you the next available time for your observatory visit, and your tickets will show that “go time.” If there’s a wait between your arrival time at the Fort and your scheduled time for the Observatory, feel free to explore historic Fort Knox, take a guided tour of the fort, visit the Visitor Education Center and gift shop, or leave the park and explore the area until it’s time for your ride.
Yes, but the list is short.
We ask that there be no smoking, eating, or beverages in the Observatory and obviously no weapons of any kind will be allowed.
We’ll be limiting “luggage” such as suitcases, duffel bags and backpacks, so it’s best to leave these items securely locked in your vehicle.
Strollers and pets (except for service animals) are also not allowed in the observatory. State regulations do not allow pets to be kept in vehicles unattended. Although dogs on leash are permitted throughout the fort, we must require, for the safety of our visitors, that visitors to the observatory not tie their dogs unattended while visiting. If visiting the observatory with a dog it is best if one “takes turns”….having one visit the observatory while the other walks the dog around the patio at the base of the tower.
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.
The Observatory meets all the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and is fully accessible for persons with mobility restrictions. When one gets off the elevator at the lowest deck (400 ft level) there is a lift available to the left which enables all who are mobility impaired to visit the uppermost level of the observatory (437 feet). A limited number of wheelchairs are available in the lower lobby of the observatory. Note: Only two mobility impaired persons (unable to walk stairs) are allowed in the observatory at any one time (Per order of the Maine Department of Transportation)
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.
No, public access to the Observatory is restricted to the elevator. Evacuation stairs to the bridge roadway are provided only for emergencies.
There are three decks in the Observatory offering views in every direction. The elevator stops on the lowest deck, and stairways off to your right lead up to the other two decks A vertical lift for all who are mobility impaired which is off to the left when leaving the elevator connects the lower deck with the top deck). 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. Click Here for a 360 degree photo from the Observatory
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 40 miles or more in some directions.
Maine’s fastest and tallest passenger elevator takes about 1 minute to make the trip. Don’t worry about the speed though…. the ride is very smooth!
Pets (on a leash 4 feet or shorter) are welcome throughout the Fort, the Fort grounds, and the Visitor's Center. Pets are not allowed in the Penobscot Narrows Observatory and may not be left in a car unattended.