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Mauna Kea Observatories, Island of Hawaii

4.7
#3 of 7 in Childrens Museums in Hawaii
Observatory Museum
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 Traveler Rating
85 reviews
Google
4.9
TripAdvisor
  • My husband and I rented a 4 wheel drive truck from Harper's truck rentals and drove to the top of Mauna Kea to see the sunset. On the way back down we stopped at the visitors centre for the free Star ...  more »
  • Only open at noon? We pulled into the lot at 10:30. Lots of cars but the observatory doesn't open till noon. Why didn't the sign at the bottom say that? Cool drive but even the restrooms were closed.  more »
  • Amazing tour. Highly recommended if you love stargazing. The views and experience worth the money. Excellent tour guide with experience on astronomy. Excellent tour a great experience if he loves the stars. The view is spectacular (from another world). It is well worthwhile. We have a great guide I knew of astronomy and taught us many things. Highly recommended.
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  • It's takes a fair amount of time and effort to get here, but it's almost always wort it. You will need to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle to drive to the summit. Otherwise, you can hike from the visitor's center. Sunsets and Sunrises are amazing.
  • 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.
  • Stunning sunset on the peak. The last road up to the peak is bumpy, 4wd is not necessary if you have a proper driving skill. But if you would like not to have any unexpected issue, still recommend to get up here by 4wd car. Make sure your tire is not wear out, stones on road are sharp.
  • 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.
  • Top of the mountain is amazing. Book a tour to the top, or brave the drive yourself.

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