Explore The Top of The World
Also known as 'White Mountain,' Maunakea summit is located 13,796 feet (4,200 meters) above sea level. Watch the sky light up all around you as Maunakea provides a dramatic scenery of vivid colors to give you the visual experience of a lifetime. Very few places on earth offer better viewing of the heavens than Maunakea. It is no surprise that many countries around the world desire to place telescopes at the summit despite the opposition of the Hawaiian people.
The Visitor Information Station (VIS) is open from 9 am to 10 pm, 365 days a year. Here you'll find restrooms available twenty-four hours a day. During the day, you will have access to a solar telescope for viewing the sun. Don't miss one of the free stargazing programs held nightly from 6pm to 10pm. Special programs are held on Saturday's. Click Here for more information.
You can reach the VIS at 9200 feet elevation by car. However, to continue up to the summit, it is highly recommended to do so in a four-wheel drive car or truck. Most rental car companies have a Maunakea exclusion and you are not covered if you go past the VIS. Click Here to rent a 4WD to reach the summit.
Plan your trip:
Be sure to allocate enough time to achieve the best experience on Maunakea. From Hilo or Waimea takes approximately one hour to reach the VIS. In order to acclimate to the elevation, plan on resting at the VIS for thirty minutes or more before continuing on to the summit. If you have a 4WD vehicle, it will take another 30 to 45 minutes from the VIS to reach the summit.
The VIS has interactive displays, a video program, handouts and the First Light Bookstore, with books about astronomy and Hawaiian culture. You can purchase soup and hot & cold drinks as well as hot water dispensers and a microwave are available outside for your convenience.
From Kona or Waimea, take Highway 190 to mile Marker 14, the intersection for the new Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Hwy 200). Turn and take this road east to reach mile marker 28, across from Hunter's Check-in station. Turn left onto the Maunakea Access Road. The Visitor Information Station is about 6 miles up the road on the right side of the road. From Hilo, take the Puainako Extension (Hwy 2000) which becomes Saddle Road (Hwy 200). At mile marker 8, Highway 200 merges seamlessly into the Daniel K Inouye Highway. Just before you reach mile marker 28, look for the street sign that reads Maunakea Access Road. Turn right. The VIS is about 6 miles up the road on the right side of the road. From Hilo, the drive takes approximately 1 hour.
Weather on Maunakea
Maunakea enjoys an average of 325 clear nights per year. Like any high mountain there can be unpredictable and fast changing weather. The average temperature is 30°F and strong winds are common. We STRONGLY recommended all visitors bring warm clothing, gloves and sturdy footwear. Driving conditions at the summit can include, high winds, blowing snow, sleet, fog and sometimes, flying rocks.
If you have questions about the weather and road conditions, please call (808) 935-6268.
Hike The Summit
Experienced hikers can take the Humu`ula Trail which starts at the visitor center to the summit and back for 11.5 mile round-trip journey. We strongly urge hikers to wear hiking boots, winter clothing, and pack supplies for at least one night in the wilderness. The round-trip hike takes an average of 10 hours for the experienced hiker. Be sure to be back at the VIS before sunset to avoid total darkness and losing the trail.
More Information on Maunakea Visitor Information Station