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“Very interesting drive to the top”

Mauna Loa Observatory
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Big Island Air Tour by Cessna Plane
Ranked #24 of 88 things to do in Hilo
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: We are an atmospheric monitoring station that was established in 1956. Please visit our website to learn more about the atmospheric constituents that we monitor that can cause a forcing effect on our climate. We are a secure working facility with no unauthorized entry and we do not provide tours to the public. All Astronomy takes place on Mauna Kea and not on Mauna Loa so please make sure that your reviews are located under the correct attraction.
Reviewed 1 April 2013

Although there is nothing much at the end of the drive, the road itself is quite interesting and beautiful, going through different types of lava and seeing the different plants that are now growing up there. You pretty much drive to the weather station and then turn around and go back down.

4  Thank Dave Z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"saddle road"
in 8 reviews
"research facility"
in 2 reviews
"single lane"
in 2 reviews
"sharp lava"
in 2 reviews
"visitor center"
in 7 reviews
"hiking trails"
in 2 reviews
"the big island"
in 9 reviews
"lava fields"
in 6 reviews
"observation area"
in 2 reviews
"access road"
in 2 reviews
"watch the sunset"
in 3 reviews
"four wheel drive"
in 2 reviews
"bucket list"
in 2 reviews
"active volcano"
in 3 reviews
"short hike"
in 2 reviews
"parking lot"
in 3 reviews
"lava tube"
in 2 reviews

72 - 76 of 112 reviews

Reviewed 31 March 2013

Several reviews have this place confused with Mauna Kea. We knew this was a working weather station (atmospheric research facility) and made special arrangements for a tour. The drive up is not as scary as Mauna Kea- across the street. The planetary observatories are on the north side of Saddle Road and this one is on the SOUTH side. You pass through a nene sanctuary on the way to Mauna Loa. Read about BOTH mountains before you go! The sunset while coming down was stunning. Beware of thick FOG on the Saddle Road. It can be dangerous. TIme your visits carefully, don't rush and have adequate food and water. This truly is the middle of nowhere. Come up with a FULL tank of gas. You can get by with a regular car on the road to Manua Loa but 4 wheel drive is preferable. Go to Harper's car and truck rental. (In Hilo and Kona.)

16  Thank WeLoveDisneyland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 January 2013

Don't get confused between "Mauna Kea" Observatory and "Mauna Loa" Observatory as some visitors are. I am a retired science teacher, live in Hawaii, who has escorted students up several times to both observatories. If your tour time is precious, don't waste it driving up Mauna "Loa". Although you get nice views as you drive to the Observatory, the place itself is a working site. No visitor information center. No telescopes to see. The ride is about an hour on a gravel road from the Saddle Road turnoff and so it is about 2 hours from Hilo. You also cannot drive to the summit, but about 3/4 of the way up because it is considered an active volcano and usually erupts every 10-15 years (has been quiet 30 years because of continuous Kilauea eruption). You can hike up to the summit, but research thoroughly before you hike. Many of the reviews of Mauna Loa Observatory that rave about it are really about Mauna Kea Observatory which has a visitor center, and you can drive to the summit although most Rental Car companies don't permit the drive on the Saddle Road.

20  Thank PASH3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 December 2012

very pretty. Drink caffeine before you go and take an aspirin to avoid headache and fatigue from altitude. Very cold-wear warm clothes.

Thank debraw833
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 12 November 2012

We absolutely loved this drive - and don't be intimidated by the warnings. In good weather, a 2 wheel drive car is fine - we did it in a small Ford sedan. Lots of interesting perspectives on the island and a very memorable part of our time on the Big Island.

4  Thank MPackardM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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