The value of this material was not lost on the ancient Hawaiians who established a major mining operation to make adz heads. When lava erupts under ice, the rapid cooling can form dense, fine-grained blocks of basalt which ancient Hawaiians prized for making adz heads. Midway in the evening we serve hot drinks and cookies to help take the chill off. Back on the Mauna Kea Access Rd, it's not even a mile to your next stop. Since starting this outfit in 1983 with an old Land Cruiser and a basket full of sweaters, my guides and I have had the enviable job of guiding nice folks, like you, to the beauty of Mauna Kea. This trail takes in two of the most important cultural sites on Mauna Kea as well as some interesting geology. Self guided tour to Mauna Kea for sunrise. Where the pavement ends, go left on the dirt road, following several 'Humuʻula Trail' signs to the trail proper. share. At Mile 5.6, a side road takes you east to the western-most antenna in the Very Long Base Array. Though the road is 2 miles longer, it’s smoother walking and easier to follow as sunlight fades. Continue straight over the saddle directly west and you'll see tiny Lake Waiʻau in the valley below. Mauna Kea summit and stars experience A stargazing journey from sea level to the nearly 14,000 foot summit of Maunakea reveals the wonders and world-class clarity of the Hawaiian night sky. more. Continue along the access road to Mile 7.4. There was a talk given by the center about the stars. When we went the roads were in great condition, very steep, but well-maintained. We invite you to experience what is quite possibly the most dramatic and stimulating scenery to be found anywhere, either on or off planet earth. This thread is archived. All in all, we felt that we got the experience that we wanted, part of which was to drive the road ourselves. Although the gravel is usually smooth (unless it's being graded) 2WD vehicles (even 2WD SUVs) ruin the road surface by spinning out on the way up, and 2WD simply does not have a low enough gear to descend safely. We had gotten up there early enough to go into the Keck building before it closed. At Mile 5.6, a side road takes you east to the westernmost antenna in the Very Long Base Array. Winding from unique volcanic formations to the brilliant domes of the Astronomy Precinct, this road trip will leave you feeling a world away from tropical island clichés. Park at the Visitor Information Station and walk 1000ft up the road toward the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy where visiting researchers and observatory staff reside. We would have had to wait another 90 minutes for sunset. If you bring your own hot chocolate or tea, you can use their hot water to make it. As an alternative, return along the shoulder of the access road rather than retracing the trail. My husband has a lot of experience driving on gravel in his home state of Oklahoma, so we didn't think this was out of our league. How you choose to proceed is up to you. Return back to the trail intersection, only this time head downhill (south) on the Summit Trail while looking for the light-gray areas of rock and sand. Definitely stop by the Keck Twins to get a glimpse of what's happening on the inside of these massive monoliths. The day we were there, there was an undercast, so much of the island was not visible. Review tags are currently only available for English language reviews. Much of Mauna Kea was once covered with glaciers which are responsible for much of the unique lava and erosion patterns not typically associated with volcanoes. At Miile 4.4 you pass a gravel turnout, and just to the east is a gray gravelly wash nicknamed Apollo Valley. Ways to Experience Mauna Kea Observatories, Mountains, Volcanos, Observatories & Planetariums. The original Sunset and Stargazing Tour. At Mile 3.1, begin looking for outcroppings of dark gray or black stone. This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Please use your best judgement about this. Glaciers as thick as 560ft covered Mauna Kea as recently as 13,000 years ago, creating some unique geological features not usually associated with Hawaiʻi volcanoes. If you are lucky, you might find unusual striping on the top of some lava flows, a testament to a battle between liquid rock and solid water. Be prepared for serious weather – snow and 100mph winds are possible. This tour lets you see the sunset among some of the world's best telescopes and then takes you for a private star show at 9000 ft. with an 11” Celestron telescope. The tight grained, dense basalt formed when lava from eruptions under glaciers cooled almost instantly against the ice. Look for blobs of pillow lava which forms in underwater eruptions, indicating the water once was likely much deeper. The center is named for Hawaiian-born Ellison Onizuka. Oh well. For us, it’s our passion, our responsibility, and our pleasure. For example, around Mile 1.7, the trail approaches the top of Waikahalulu Gulch, which formed after enough water backed up behind a glacial moraine that it broke through in a torrential, cataclysmic flood that carved deeply into the hillside. Altitude can affect anyone, and impair driving. We drove back down to the visitors' center, where we hiked up a cinder cone to watch the sunset from there. Pass Onizuka Center for International Astronomy on your right where visiting researchers and observatory staff reside. Start Junction of Saddle and Mauna Kea Access Rds, Length 15 miles; 1½ hours, plus exploration time. Geologist believe the water is held here by the fine-grained sediment which has settled throughout the rocks beneath the lake clogging up drainage channels. All rights reserved. I'm mostly an animal person, and a plant has to be pretty interesting to get me excited. Although the summit area receives an average of only 8in of rain each year, it's enough to keep the sacred lake filled. NOTE: 4WD is highly recommended for the road beyond. It typically takes five hours to reach the summit, half as long coming down, and you'll want some time to explore in between. Also watch for darker, almost black outcroppings. The unique surface is glacial till which formed when giant rivers of ice pulverized the lava rock beneath them. We decided NOT to make the drive down in the dark. At the trail intersection at Mile 4, take a 10-minute detour to the west that takes you over the saddle and down to Lake Waiʻau, the sacred piku (navel) of the Hawaiian Islands. One of the most amazing parts of this whole excursion was to see the endangered silverswords in the enclosure behind the visitors' center. E Komo Mai ! Altitude can affect anyone, and impair driving. The road begins the big climb almost immediately beyond the center. At Mile 4.4 you pass a gravel turnout, and just to the east is a gray gravelly wash nicknamed Apollo Valley. The unique surface is glacial till which formed when giant rivers of ice pulverized the lava rock beneath them. I want emails from Lonely Planet with travel and product information, promotions, advertisements, third-party offers, and surveys. Look for unique pillow lava formations which occur when eruptions happen under water. If you look west up the trail, you'll notice the lighter almost yellowish-orange hue of the cinders on Puʻu Waiʻau. If you want a closer look, there's a parking lot at Mile 5.1. There are many stretches with no guard rail and still a steep drop-off, and switchbacks. Guide recommendations are also welcome. The trail heads uphill until it intersects with the Mauna Kea Summit Trail. The road begins the big climb almost immediately beyond the center. Mauna Kea Access Rd, aka Mauna Kea Summit Rd, aka John A Burns Way (named after Hawaii's second governor) starts easy enough, darting off through the grasslands past the sign warning of (invisible) cows toward the historic Humu‘ula Sheep Station. We were able to see the moons of Jupiter. Mauna Kea (meaning “white mountain”) is historically and culturally very significant to the Hawaiian people, and because of its contributions to geology and astronomy, to the world as well. Monte “Pat” Wright- Owner/guide, © 2018 Mauna Kea Summit Adventures. Our local guides will enlighten you with the sacredness and cultural aspect of Mauna Kea… Register at the Visitor Information Station where you can also get advice from the staff. These are some fascinating and beautiful plants. The trail officially ends at the access road’s mile marker 7, but the true summit still snickers at you another 1.5 miles away. Our rental car was a two-wheel drive Ford Escape. Exactly 1 mile below the intersection you'll find an astonishing pile of black chips below a tiny cave. Using high power green lasers our guides are famous for their ability to locate the treasures of the night sky and interpret them in a way that everyone can understand. The tour is 7-8 1/2 hours in duration depending on where you join it. This is interesting; they have a gift shop to poke around in, and show movies. For Native Hawaiians, the summit is a region, a realm, not a point on a map. © 2020 Lonely Planet. (Reset your odometer; the mile markings start over here and we'll go by those.). If you go, listen to your body and descend as needed if you don't feel well. But if you really need to place a boot toe on Puʻu Wekiu, Mauna Kea’s true summit, soldier on till you reach the UH 2.2m Telescope, where the short spur trail to the summit begins.