Rides up Mauna Kea

Rides up Mauna Kea

Joined: March 27th, 2010, 10:55 pm

March 27th, 2010, 11:09 pm #1

I'm going to Hawaii in a month, and plan on going to the top of Mauna Kea while I'm there. For a variety of reasons we'd like to drive to the top, which will require 4WD. From everything I've read, the only choices for this are Harper's rental or a variety of private tours which will be more expensive. It seems likely that I'll rent from Harper's, but before setting anything up I wanted to see if anyone knows of other options. Does anyone know of any private individuals that offer rides to the top? Or other ways I might get up?

Thanks for any info you may be able to provide.

Pete
36 highpoints
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Joined: January 21st, 2004, 3:15 pm

March 28th, 2010, 4:25 am #2

The road to the observatories on top of Mauna Kea is steep and gravel. It is no joke to drive. The visitor center posts photos of vehicles that missed the switchback turns and went off the road.

The rental agencies on the island do not want you to risk their cars on that road, and in fact, don't want you to drive the road between Kea and Loa. They make you sign a release. So if you feel confident and you take the liability, you'll drive the rental cars to the top. Other than Harper's 4WD, I don't know of any other services. Ask around in town. You should be able to find a local to do that for a fee.

Once parked on top, you still need to stroll over to the highpoint hill, which has caused several people to choke in the thin air, being at 13,000' and all.
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Joined: July 23rd, 2004, 7:04 pm

March 29th, 2010, 1:52 pm #3

I'm going to Hawaii in a month, and plan on going to the top of Mauna Kea while I'm there. For a variety of reasons we'd like to drive to the top, which will require 4WD. From everything I've read, the only choices for this are Harper's rental or a variety of private tours which will be more expensive. It seems likely that I'll rent from Harper's, but before setting anything up I wanted to see if anyone knows of other options. Does anyone know of any private individuals that offer rides to the top? Or other ways I might get up?

Thanks for any info you may be able to provide.

Pete
36 highpoints
..and drove up with my 2WD rental, without incident. I'm such a scofflaw. I should be ashamed of myself.
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 5:18 am

March 29th, 2010, 5:24 pm #4

I'm going to Hawaii in a month, and plan on going to the top of Mauna Kea while I'm there. For a variety of reasons we'd like to drive to the top, which will require 4WD. From everything I've read, the only choices for this are Harper's rental or a variety of private tours which will be more expensive. It seems likely that I'll rent from Harper's, but before setting anything up I wanted to see if anyone knows of other options. Does anyone know of any private individuals that offer rides to the top? Or other ways I might get up?

Thanks for any info you may be able to provide.

Pete
36 highpoints
I hiked Mauna Kea from the Onizuka Visitor Center and therefore had no pre-occupations about breaking the rules. So when I'm chatting with the girl at the rental counter (who was trying to take me home, BTW), I mentioned that I was hiking Mauna Kea and she basically didn't believe me.

"No really, I'm going to park at the visitor center and do the hike."

"Sure you are."

So anyway, we went back and forth good-naturedly and I don't think she ever really believed me, but didn't seem to much care. Just told me to drive carefully. Saw all sorts of vehicles making the drive when I road-walked back down after taking the trail up. First half of the road from the visitor center is dirt; second half is paved. Enjoy.
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 9:07 pm

March 29th, 2010, 8:37 pm #5

I'm going to Hawaii in a month, and plan on going to the top of Mauna Kea while I'm there. For a variety of reasons we'd like to drive to the top, which will require 4WD. From everything I've read, the only choices for this are Harper's rental or a variety of private tours which will be more expensive. It seems likely that I'll rent from Harper's, but before setting anything up I wanted to see if anyone knows of other options. Does anyone know of any private individuals that offer rides to the top? Or other ways I might get up?

Thanks for any info you may be able to provide.

Pete
36 highpoints
Me and various friends in Hawaii have done the drive, and it's no big deal. Go slow, go very very slow if it's dark, but don't worry. Just rent a car and go. All standard disclaimers apply. It's not my fault if i'm wrong. But i'm not.

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Joined: March 31st, 2004, 3:19 pm

March 30th, 2010, 12:30 pm #6

When I was there the U of H was giving Saturday tours of their observatory. Everyone met at the visitors center. I had rented a 4WD from Harpers and 3 other people asked to ride with me and offered to pay for the ride. 2 Englishmen and a M.D. intern (interesting conversation on the way up). Rental cost me close to nothing with their help. And, I talked all of them into hiking to the highpoint too!

So, go to the visitors center and ask for a ride from someone else who's there and offer $25 for the ride
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Joined: January 24th, 2004, 8:34 pm

April 9th, 2010, 8:57 pm #7

Me and various friends in Hawaii have done the drive, and it's no big deal. Go slow, go very very slow if it's dark, but don't worry. Just rent a car and go. All standard disclaimers apply. It's not my fault if i'm wrong. But i'm not.
If you don't want to drive to the top, drive to the visitor's center and hitch a ride.

We hiked up from the visitor center and hitched a ride down. The plan was to do a round trip hike but we were exhausted and sucking wind pretty hard because we hiked to nearly 14k after starting the morning on the beach. So instead we just talked our way into the back seat of an italian couple who had driven up to the observatory in a 2wd drive rental car. They didn't speak english, so we just kind of barged our way into the backseat and then said grazie!
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Joined: September 6th, 2009, 2:22 pm

April 25th, 2010, 1:40 am #8

I'm going to Hawaii in a month, and plan on going to the top of Mauna Kea while I'm there. For a variety of reasons we'd like to drive to the top, which will require 4WD. From everything I've read, the only choices for this are Harper's rental or a variety of private tours which will be more expensive. It seems likely that I'll rent from Harper's, but before setting anything up I wanted to see if anyone knows of other options. Does anyone know of any private individuals that offer rides to the top? Or other ways I might get up?

Thanks for any info you may be able to provide.

Pete
36 highpoints
If you drive in any mountains at all this road is not a real worry. In fact, my wife, Lin, and I couldn't believe that they made that big a deal of it. I rented a 4WD SUV but it wasn't needed. We never told the rental agency anything. However, if there is bad weather then try to wait for a better day. We went in November 2007 and it snowed at the summit two days later and the road was closed. The day we drove up it was 80 degrees at my beach hotel and 37 degrees at the top and it was perfect weather. It you aren't used to steep somewhat exposed mountain roads then it might be different for you. Just drive slow and be careful.
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