Visiting the Summit
If you are planning to visit the summit, we highly recommend that you stop at the Visitor Information Station (VIS) at 9,200 ft to receive a current weather update, safety information, and to adjust to the change in altitude. Maunakea is one of the only places in the world where you can drive from sea level to 14,000 feet in about 2 hours, so altitude sickness is a high possibility. At 14,000 feet, there is 40% less oxygen than at sea level, so visitors should acclimatize to the altitude before proceeding further up the mountain. Anyone in poor health should consult their physician before planning a visit to Maunakea. We do not recommend anyone who is pregnant to go further than the VIS. People under the age of 16 should not go any further because their bodies are still developing and they are affected more rapidly when going to a high altitude. If you plan to scuba dive, do not plan to go up to the summit within 24 hours after your dive. Furthermore, we do not recommend anyone with a heart or respiratory problem to travel above the VIS. For your safety and the safety of others please view Maunakea Hazards and the Visiting Maunakea Video.
Visitors are advised that only TRUE 4-wheel drive vehicles with LOW range travel above the VIS. About 200 yards beyond the station, the pavement ends and the next five miles are a steep graded-gravel road. Before proceeding visitors should consult their rental vehicle company or review their contract concerning visiting the summit of Maunakea. Many rental companies do not allow their vehicles on the summit even if they are 4-wheel drive, and if anything were to happen to your vehicle you would potentiially be responsible for all towing charges and repairs, which can be thousands of dollars ($$$$).
If your vehicle becomes disabled, immediately inform the Maunakea Rangers at (808) 961 2180. You will be required to make arrangements for immediate removal or repair. If the vehicle is a hazard to drivers and repair or towing arrangements are not immediately arranged, it will be towed at your (or the rental company's) expense. Keep the Maunakea Rangers informed.
The visiting hours to the summit area are from 1/2 hour before sunrise until 1/2 hour after sunset. For your safety we ask that visitors leave the summit once it becomes dark.
If you are visiting the summit area, please leave the landscape as you find it. Do not disturb the terrain or build rock piles. Please stay on designated roadways and trails. Off-road driving is prohibited. Maunakea is a sensitive environment, so please treat it as such. Do not litter.
Note: The observatories are private research facilities and not open to the public at nighttime. Stargazing only occurs at the VIS, where we are equipped for visitors, have telescopes you can look through, and temperatures are much warmer than the summit.