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Mauna Kea Observatories, Island of Hawaii

(80+ reviews on the web)
Observatory
Mauna Kea, is a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii. Standing 4207m above sea level, its peak is the highest point in the state of Hawaii. Much of the mountain is under water; when measured from its oceanic base, Mauna Kea is over 10000m tall. Mauna Kea is about a million years old, and has thus passed the most active shield stage of life hundreds of thousands of years ago. In its current post-shield state, its lava is more viscous, resulting in a steeper profile. Late volcanism has also given it a much rougher appearance than its neighboring volcanoes; contributing factors include the construction of cinder cones, the decentralization of its rift zones, the glaciation on its peak, and the weathering effects of the prevailing trade winds. Mauna Kea last erupted 6,000 to 4,000 years ago and is now considered dormant.In Hawaiian mythology, the peaks of the island of Hawaii are sacred. An ancient law allowed only high-ranking aliʻi to visit its peak. Ancient Hawaiians living on the slopes of Mauna Kea relied on its extensive forests for food, and quarried the dense volcano-glacial basalts on its flanks for tool production. When Europeans arrived in the late 18th century, settlers introduced cattle, sheep and game animals, many of which became feral and began to damage the mountain's ecological balance. Mauna Kea can be ecologically divided into three sections: an alpine climate at its summit, a Sophora chrysophylla–Myoporum sandwicense (or māmane–naio) forest on its flanks, and an Acacia koa–Metrosideros polymorpha forest, now mostly cleared by the former sugar industry, at its base. In recent years, concern over the vulnerability of the native species has led to court cases that have forced the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources to eradicate all feral species on the mountain.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • The highest mountain in Hawaii ' is an absolute must-see! We got the recommendation from our hosts and are simply moved upwards without expectations. To the visitor center, you can get with any car without problems, who would later drive requires four-wheel drive however necessarily! The higher you go the cooler is, pack it up so the best warm clothes. From the visitor center, you can walk a couple of beautiful tours and there is a mountain from which the sunset really stunningly beautiful looks! Now to the Observatory. The starry sky is explained, telescopes are set up from which you can see various planets in the sky very close (in our case, Mars, Venus, and Jupiter) and also on the belt of Orion and the moon a telescope was aimed. It was really spectacular. And then there's even a "tour" of the starry sky, with explanations for the orientation of stories about individual constellations. The whole is also free of charge and runs on tip base and takes place every day of the year. Abosult recommended!
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  • We took a commercial tour of this incredible site. A sundown tour with star gazing after. The top of the mountain was about 4 degrees with windchill, so dress warm. Our tour provided warm parkas and g...  more »
  • Stargazing on Mauna Kea was very high on our Big Island to-do list . The experience is unique. The change in landscape is surreal and dramatic. From beaches, palm trees and +27C to pasture lands and +...  more »
Google
  • Awesome. Book ahead - we used Mauna Kea Summit Adventures - and watch the weather. I wasn't able to get to the summit during the Christmas holidays (winter here too - particularly at almost 14k ft), but did make it during March 2017. Wonderful views and guides are well informed and able on details. Stargazing is fun, but can be chilly depending on weather/wind.
  • As long as you have the right vehicle to traverse the road to the summit you will be fine. The acclimating to the altitude is a major concern and something that should not be taken lightly. Go to the visitor center and wait there before going to the summit. Once at the summit do not over estimate your abilities. Be sure to take lots of warm clothes it can get very cold up there.
  • Took a Sunset tour of Mauna Kea. It was definitely one of the most beautiful places I have visited. It was snowing and terribly cold (primarily because of the wind). The tour was definitely worth the time . I would suggest doing those tours which stop somewhere near the summit to do some star gazing.
  • At this location you are standing on the highest mountain on Earth. As the guides will tell you, this is because it is one continuous mountain from the sea floor vs. Everest, which is not. In any event, watching the sun set is more amazingly beautiful then I had thought it would be. Definitely a place to go visit! Even with it being 85 degress F at the seashore, wear pants and bring a heavy jacket as it will be 30 degrees at the top, with the windchill dropping it down to about zero.
  • Worth the drive to the top! Amazing sunset and wonderful stargazing show at the visitor center. Dress for winter!