Observatory Hill Overlook

The Observatory Hill Overlook has long been a popular destination for those seeking to take in what is arguably the single most dramatic view of Lake Mendota anywhere in Madison.

From here, one can take in the full sweep of the lake and its shoreline, from University Bay in the west to Picnic Point in the north (with Mendota’s north shore far beyond) to Maple Bluff in the northeast to the Madison Isthmus in the east.

There are few views like it anywhere.

A convenient pullout on the north side of Observatory Drive offers a few short-term parking spots for visitors.

View of Picnic Point from Observatory Hill. Photo by William Cronon.
A view of Picnic Point from Observatory Hill with orchard in foreground, early 1900’s.