I know what you’re thinking.. A mountain in Hawaii CANNOT be taller than Mt. Everest…WELL Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, is actually the tallest mountain in the world. Reaching 23,000′ deep into the ocean and 13,796′ above sea level, from base to peak, we have Everest beat by a few thousand.
Both the summit and the visitor center are great places to watch the sunset, and we haven’t been yet, but I hear the sunrise is just as incredible.
What you need to know:
- Be sure to check the weather before you start your expedition to the summit. The Mauna Kea Weather Center will show you the sky clarity, weather conditions. If the conditions are too dangerous, The summit will be closed as storms and wind speeds can be hazardous.
- The visitors center is located at 9,200′ in elevation and they will make you stop here for about a half hour to adjust to the elevation prior to ascending to the top. Keep in mind you MUST have a 4×4 to ascend to the summit, because of the steep road grade a 2 wheel drive vehicle is not equip to handle these conditions.
- You may hike to the top from the visitors center, this hike is 6 miles and on average it takes 8 hours to complete be sure to be back before dark so you’re not stranded on the trail. For about 200 yards you will be on the road after this, the trailhead is to your left. The first 1.5 miles, or so, trail is marked then is clearly visible the remainder of the trail. The trail runs back into the road just over 13,000 feet in elevation. The last mile or so of this trail is shared with the road. You may want to wear bright colored clothing, or if you are stuck back in the dark it would be ideal to have reflectors/ headlamps so you are easily seen by passing cars. Take PLENTY of food and water. Know, and be aware of altitude sickness, bring ibuprofen, or another NSAID for headaches. Dress in layers, there could be snow at the peak.
- If you stop at the visitor center there are star gazing events that take place every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. This is free and open to the public There are telescopes like you’ve never seen before with a laser tour of the constellations. This happens from 6-10pm.
Some rules for the star gazing experiences:
- Don’t touch the telescopes
- No white lights (this prevents your eyes ability to adjust to the darkness limiting your ability to see the night sky, and through the telescope)
- No smoking