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Mauna Kea Observatories, Island of Hawaii

(80+ reviews on the web)
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
  • 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 »
  • We had a small group (7) for a trip to top of Mauna Kea. We met our guide Edmond at a pickup point out of Hilo. He gave history of the telescopes. Where to best watch the sunset. Explained why we did ...  more »
Google
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Amazing place! Great sunset at the summit and excellent stargazing