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. View Maunakea Hazards and the Visiting Maunakea Video

 
We also highly recommend that only TRUE 4-wheel drive vehicles with LOW range travel beyond the VIS.  About 300 yards beyond the station, the pavement ends and the next 4 and a half miles are a steep graded-gravel road. You should consult with your rental vehicle company or contract for a Maunakea Specific clause.  Many rental companies do not allow their vehicles to continue on the the summit even if they are 4-wheel drive.
 
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.

For groups of 10 or more, a Special Use permit is required.  For more information, see our Research, Group Visits and Military page.

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 facilities and generally not open to the public.  Stargazing is best done at the VIS, where we are equipped for visitors and have telescopes you can look through.


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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MKVIS Hours: 9am - 10pm every day.

Current road conditions - call (808)935-6268