December 15, 2012

Road Trip - Mauna Kea Summit

This year we completed a couple of great road trips but my favorite by far was our day trip to the summit of Mauna Kea in the Big Island of Hawaii. This long and winding road to what seems like the top of the world is trully one of the greatest drives anywhere. Yes, there are potential perils as those long and steep grades can be pretty hazardous in bad weather and a major break down along this route would ruin anyone's vacation. But let's get real, with the reliability of a modern vehicle and a good dose of common sense, you can reach some pretty amathing places. That gorgeous day we drove up to the summit this past fall was one of those times. Just plan your travel times, take it slow and enjoy the scenery. There are very few places in the world where a tourist can drive up to 13,000 feet above sea level to enjoy a sunset more or less on a whim and with limited planning. Dress warm and watch the sunset, then drive back to the visitor center to enjoy the most amazing skies and a night of stargazing sponsored by the local amateur atronomers who bring out an amazing array of telescopes for people to use.

More photos on my Picasa album...

The steep switchbacks and it's washboard surface - a place to take it slow and enjoy the scenery.

Looking down to the visitors center at the 9,000 feet level - the road vanishes into the clouds below.

Back on the black top for the last five miles of the journey is a breeze but don't overstress you engine.

Once you reach the top at 13,000 feet it is all about parking and enjoying the scenery.

You are definitively not alone out there.

Sunset time!

Here is a map with some of the photos:

View Driving up to Mauna Kea Summit in a larger map

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