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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.  Juveniles between 16 and 18 years old must acclimate for 1 hour before travelling above the VIS.
  • 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.
  • Unless transportation is through a UH-permitted commercial tour operator for Maunakea, the group is considered self-transporting and must submit a certificate for USD$1 million general liability insurance. ​Coverage must apply to bodily injury or property damage of the participants for the intended SR date.
    • In the "Description of Operations/Locations/Vehicles/Special Items" section:  "The State of Hawaii, including all of its departments and attached agencies, their officers, employees and agents, and the University of Hawaii, are named as additional insured."
    • In the section "Certificate Holder," please indicate "State of Hawaii and University of Hawaii" as additional insured. Address is 640 North A`ohōkū Place, Hilo, Hawai`i 96720
    • If you self-transport (i.e., drive yourself), you are strongly encouraged to use ​Four-​W​heel-​D​rive​ in​ L​ow gear (4WD-Lo)​. Be aware of the hazards associated with high-altitude travel and road conditions. The road is maintained with heavy equipment and the operator may not be aware of other road users. Further, the number of travelers has been increasing, and many visitors are not familiar with the steep terrain, unpaved sections of road, and proper vehicle control.
    • ​Certificate may be scanned and emailed to vissr100@gmail.com.​
  • 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.
  • The Maunakea Invasive Species Management Plan (http://www.malamamaunakea.org/environment/invasive-species) requires that all vehicles, occupants, and belongings be free of invasive species when entering UH Managed land on Maunakea (Halepohaku or above).  For most brief visits, review of SOP#1 is sufficient. Extensive field work may entail review of additional portions of this plan, typically SOP#2.  Common concerns include extensive soil and plant seeds on vehicle undercarriage and/or in passenger compartments.

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.


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