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Our guided tours are available to guests of all ages and interests.  Tour our historical campus, initially developed by NASA in 1962, and learn about the role it played in the race to space. Explore our impressive—and massive—radio telescopes, along with a variety of instruments used to examine space.  Visit PARI’s Exhibit Gallery displaying a collection of rare meteorites and minerals as well as NASA Space Shuttle artifacts, many of which have flown in space.

PARI Tour Options Include


2 hours ($150 minimum up to 10 guests, $15 each additional person. By reservation only.)

The Gallery Tour starts with a look at the Electromagnetic Spectrum, where we discuss how light is used to reveal qualities of objects in space. We’ll use examples and hands-on activities of how we collect and use this information to learn about the universe around us.

Next, we’ll visit the Operations Center, where our telescopes, antennas, and earth science instruments are controlled. How they point, move, and what their data looks like will be revealed.  Visitors will learn how 3D Printers use data to create tactile models of the terrain of other planets and examine what a crater on the Moon or a volcano on Mars feels like. We’ll also discuss how robots, like rovers and orbiters, help gather the data used to explore the places humans can’t safely go.

In the NASA gallery, visitors will tour a selection of objects from throughout the history of space exploration–including a NASA-built model of the Apollo Lunar lander; the ATS6 satellite, responsible for the first satellite television; and an actual Redstone rocket engine that was one of the first to carry humans to space.

We’ll then move on to our galleries which feature meteorites from all over the world, including some from the Moon and Mars—and one that is thought to be the rarest meteorite in existence. Our impressive collection of gems, fossils and minerals from different parts of North Carolina are also on display, including a 15.3 carat emerald, a sample of radioactive uranium ore, rubies and amethyst, garnets, quartz and mica. You can even hold a dinosaur egg!

To complete the tour, we enter a dark domain to discover the hidden secrets of fluorescent minerals. These rocks look normal under light from the sun or a bulb, but reveal something entirely different when illuminated with varying frequencies of ultraviolet light.


4 hours ($500 minimum up to 10 guests; $40 each additional person. By reservation only.)

This deeper look at the PARI site gets up close and personal with the instruments, archives and eras of our history in space. The VIP tour includes the Gallery tour and… 

Get a closer, hands-on look at one of our large radio telescopes! Visitors will learn how it operates and is controlled—and may even be able to capture data of an exploded star or rotating ball of gas. We’ll take a look at our tunnel system, which connects the original NASA buildings and provides safe and secure access to the data, power and water systems that keep the site operational for its essential role in space exploration.

Next visitors will visit one of the largest archives of astronomical data in the world, the Astronomical Photographic Data Archive (APDA). This 100 year-old collection contains data that is still relevant and in use today. Visitors will learn how the frontiers of astrophysics research can be pushed forward with something as simple as glass plates.

Finally, we’ll visit the optical ridge where our research-grade telescopes are housed and use the historic Russian spy binoculars that can see as far as the distant Blue Ridge Parkway.


Additional costs may apply.

PARI’s 200+ acre campus is nestled in the heart of the Pisgah National Forest, one of the most visited forests in the nation. We can assist in organizing outdoor excursions for our guests that complement your visit and provide an experience that captures your heart, while also stimulating your mind.

• Hiking and biking

• Fishing and rafting

• Waterfall exploration

• Exploration of local flora, geology and wildlife

Plan your visit to PARI