Special Requests & Group Visits

Groups are defined as more than 10 people from one organization wishing to visit Mauna Kea.  All group visits require an approved Special Request Form prior to their visit.  Larger groups shall not be split up into smaller numbers to circumvent any requirements.

The requirements listed below help us protect the unique and sensitive cultural, scientific and natural resources of Mauna Kea.  They also help protect you from the hazards associated with travel to high elevation, mountain driving, limited mountain facilities and lack of nearby emergency services.  See Mauna Kea Hazards.

Special Request Forms must be submitted for approval at least one month prior to your visit.  Please fill out the Special Request form online.  Processing takes approximately two weeks with approval or disapproval sent to you via email.  Approved requests include an identification number for your visit.  

While planning your trip, please note there are different requirements for groups visiting during daytime and nighttime and for travel to or above the Visitor Information Station (9,200 elevation).

REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL GROUP VISITS

  • No one under the age of 16 is allowed to travel above the Visitor Information Station.
  • Group visits to the summit of Mauna Kea that include individuals under the age of 18 are limited to one passenger van per day with a total capacity of fourteen (14) passengers.
  • Chaperones:  Anyone under the age of 18 will be assigned an adult chaperone.  See Daytime Visits and Nighttime/Stargazing for chaperone requirements and specific times.
  • All group members must acclimate for at least 30 minutes at the Visitor Information Station before traveling above the Visitor Information Station.
  • If using an outside vendor for driving to or above the Visitor Information Station, it must be a vendor that is permitted by the University of Hawaii.
  • The group must submit a $1 million liability policy unless transportation is provided by a permitted Mauna Kea commercial drive vendor.  The policy must include the State of Hawaii and the University of Hawaii as additional insured.
  • If not using a permitted commercial drive vendor, an individual certified to provide first aid and CPR is required to accompany the group.
  • Visitors traveling above the Visitor Information Station require a TRUE 4-wheel-drive vehicle with low range, operated by an experienced driver, or the use of a permitted Mauna Kea commercial drive vendor.  If renting, confirm with your rental company that your vehicle has a separate low range.
  • No one under the age of 18 is allowed to drive any vehicle providing transportation for any group.  
  • If renting vehicles from a rental car agency, please be sure the agency allows driving on the Mauna Kea summit access road or on gravel roads.
  • Members of the group must stay together.  When traveling above the Visitor Information Station and someone feels ill or becomes ill, all members of the group must return to the Visitor Information Station unless the group has additional vehicles that can provide transportation to the remaining members of the group.  Under no circumstances will anyone under the age of 18 be left anywhere without proper chaperone supervision and transportation.

STUDENT GROUPS

  • Daytime & nighttime student group visits to the summit of Mauna Kea that include individuals under the age of 18 are limited to one passenger van per day with a total capacity of 14 passengers (including chaperones).

 DAYTIME VISITS

  • Daytime visits can be anytime from 1/2 hour before sunrise up to 3:00 pm.
  • Daytime visits require one (1) adult chaperone per ten (10) group members under the age of 18. 

NIGHTTIME VISITS AND STARGAZING AT THE VISITOR INFORMATION STATION

  • Nighttime visits are anytime from 3:00 pm to 1/2 hour after sunset when at the summit and from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm when below the summit or at the Visitor Information Station.
  • Inquiry must be made with the Office of Mauna Kea Management regarding special arrangements for stargazing if the group exceeds 20 members.  
  • If the group exceeds 20, the group must arrange for their own star gazing guide and provide their own telescope.
  • Nighttime visits require one (1) adult chaperone per five (5) group members under the age of 18.

If you have any questions about a potential visit, please contact OMKM at (808) 933 0734.  Please don't forget to submit your group visit Special Request Form.


Free Nightly Stargazing

FREE Nightly Stargazing & Star Tours

Open to everyone! Every night of the year from 6pm - 10pm MKVIS conducts star tours and operates several telescopes for public viewing by our knowledgeable guides.
Learn More about our Stargazing Program »

Escorted Summit Tours

Every Sat. & Sun. Bring your 4WD vehicle and join our free summit tour caravan. Tours will go into at least one of the observatories.
Details of Escorted Summit Tours »

Volunteer Program

Learn about astronomy and Mauna Kea as a volunteer. No experience required.
Volunteer Positions at MKVIS »

First Light E-Store - Apparel, Souvenirs, DVDs and Books MaunaKeaAstronomyJobs.org - Employment, internships and volunteer opportunities on Mauna Kea

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