All photos (5)Mauna Kea Volcano
Mauna Kea Volcano
Mauna Kea Volcano

Mauna Kea Volcano

9.520 reviews
Tours, Classes and Rentals, Outdoors, Hiking and Nature
Ranked #10 in Hilo things to do
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  • 7.5
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  • 7.4
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  • 6.3
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Hilo, HI 96720-5108
(808) 934-4550
http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis/visiting-mauna-kea/visiting-the-summit.html
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I love this place! You can drive all the way to the summit in a regular car; you don't need four wheel drive unless it has been snowing. The first five miles of road above the ... Read more
Visitor Center (at the 9,300 foot level) are gravel, but the last couple of miles are paved. At the summit (about 13,800 feet), you can park next to the observatories and hike up to the true summit (a five minute walk, but your lungs may burn due to the elevation). There are often snow fields at the summit in the shaded areas, even in the spring and fall. You can take a picture of yourself in the snow in Hawaii! You can typically visit the University of Hawaii telescope at the summit, and the dual Keck telescopes just below the summit (the largest in the world at 32.5' in diameter) are usually open (even when it says they are closed - try the door anyway). Bring a jacket; it will be 50 degrees colder at the summit (at or near freezing) than at sea level. Come early in the morning, arriving by 9:30 am if you want to see all the way to Maui and capture Haleakala peaking through the clouds at 10,020 feet high. The Visitor Center at the end of the paved road has snacks and some nice interpretive exhibits; it also has a short loop path behind the building that introduces you to the Silversword plant, unique to the high elevations of Maui and the Big Island. The unusual silvery color and spectacular blooms (if you catch them in season) are beautiful. If you happen to be in the Hilo area and will be coming back to Kailua-Kona at night, the Visitor Center is open late and they show a film about the many observatories at the summit of Mauna Kea (the most in the world) and have smaller telescopes available for guided night sky viewing. Another fun thing you can do is rent bicycles in Kona ($20/day) and haul them up to the Visitor Center. It is a steep seven mile downhill coast (make sure your brakes work well!) to the Saddle Road and then two miles of flat road toward Hilo (that will require pedaling) and then 27 miles of additional downhill coasting all the way into Hilo. It takes about a 1.5 hours to coast all the way into Hilo from the Visitor Center.

Member Reviews(20)

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Carlsbad

These online guides to a terrible job of differentiating unusual places. Does this listing refer to the summit? If so, its an amazing place to visit. You drive up Mauna Kea to the visitor center at 10,000 feet. there are silver swords behind the center. The sunsets are great here. At night there are large telescopes rolled out for the public. To get to the actual summit you need four wheel drive.

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Redwood City

Giant volcano on the big island, you can do the hike into the crater in just a few hours, very accessible. The museum and tourist information was very useful as well. There's plenty of tours you can book through them as well

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San Jose

There's nothing like it. Even if you can't see the lava flowing, the existing lava is incredible to look at. Drive is about 2 hours each way from Kona. Be careful in breathing the air there if you have any respiratory problems. Also, take a flashlight, closed shoes, a jacket, and long pants. Temperatures are quite a bit cooler than Kona

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Coos Bay

I love this place! You can drive all the way to the summit in a regular car; you don't need four wheel drive unless it has been snowing. The first five miles of road above the Visitor Center (at the 9,300 foot level) are gravel, but the last couple of miles are paved. At the summit (about 13,800 feet), you can park next to the observatories and hike up to the true summit (a five minute walk, but your lungs may burn due to the elevation). There are often snow fields at the summit in the shaded areas, even in the spring and fall. You can take a picture of yourself in the snow in Hawaii! You can typically visit the University of Hawaii telescope at the summit, and the dual Keck telescopes just below the summit (the largest in the world at 32.5' in diameter) are usually open (even when it says they are closed - try the door anyway). Bring a jacket; it will be 50 degrees colder at the summit (at or near freezing) than at sea level. Come early in the morning, arriving by 9:30 am if you want to see all the way to Maui and capture Haleakala peaking through the clouds at 10,020 feet high. The Visitor Center at the end of the paved road has snacks and some nice interpretive exhibits; it also has a short loop path behind the building that introduces you to the Silversword plant, unique to the high elevations of Maui and the Big Island. The unusual silvery color and spectacular blooms (if you catch them in season) are beautiful. If you happen to be in the Hilo area and will be coming back to Kailua-Kona at night, the Visitor Center is open late and they show a film about the many observatories at the summit of Mauna Kea (the most in the world) and have smaller telescopes available for guided night sky viewing. Another fun thing you can do is rent bicycles in Kona ($20/day) and haul them up to the Visitor Center. It is a steep seven mile downhill coast (make sure your brakes work well!) to the Saddle Road and then two miles of flat road toward Hilo (that will require pedaling) and then 27 miles of additional downhill coasting all the way into Hilo. It takes about a 1.5 hours to coast all the way into Hilo from the Visitor Center.

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Valencia

Ever ski in Hawaii? Well they do! Bring a jacket if visiting here.

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Spokane

Top of the world, Snow on Hawaii?

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Aiea

Put this on the bucket list!

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Sherwood

Have heard this is a must see at night!

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Victoria
First to Review

Must see! 11/2 hour by car, take jacket as it can be rainy and cool there.

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Take a night tour to the top. See the stars at night.

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San Diego
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Venice
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Local from Keauhou
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Kihei
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Local from Keaau
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Rialto
Recommended for:Family TravellersBackpackersAdventure TravellersSpiritual Seekers
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Mauna Kea Volcano

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Aliases: Mauna Kea

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