Mauna Loa Observatory
Mauna Loa Observatory
4.5
About
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.
Duration: 2-3 hours
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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4.5
132 reviews
Excellent
83
Very good
35
Average
10
Poor
3
Terrible
1

Will Flanders
Fairbanks, AK83 contributions
Sep 2023 • Couples
Amazing trip! We went to go star gazing at night however the road is blocked by a lava flow around the 9000 foot level. I do hope they repair the road its an amazing sight day or night. Still worth the trip even though its partially blocked.
Written 29 September 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Samanta P
3 contributions
May 2023 • Couples
The best spot in the world for stargazing! Sadly we couldn’t go all the way up to the observatory because the ask you to arrive at least one hour before the sunset starts (at least 5:30 pm). There is a small hike to climb a little mountain to see the full dome of stars, totally worth it!
Written 11 May 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Oregoniansescaping
Portland, OR92 contributions
Dec 2021
Note: observatory was closed to the public due to covid but we went for the view at 11K ft.
The road is not for the faint of heart. It's 15 miles of hell. Undulating, climbing paved road that made everyone nauseous. Driving through a moonscape at times as you go through the cloud layer. The view was fantastic and worth the drive. You can see the Mauna Kea observatories easily as well as Maui, ocean, and more. NO restroom and it was obvious that many folks had been using a section of rocks as a bathroom (ugh!).
Written 29 December 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Rinchuksh
Pointe Claire, Canada2 contributions
Dec 2020
Very exotic but very challenging hike up to the volcano crater. The way is full of rocks beautiful but sharp so cant sit&rest really. The hike takes all day from dawn to dusk.
On the top heard to breath
Written 26 February 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

astromandan
33 contributions
Jan 2020
Being this high on an island in the middle of the ocean is really fun. I felt like I was back on peaks in Colorado. Don't drive it if you don't have a four-wheel drive---mostly that is to protect the road. If you are into astronomy, this is THE place to see. Also, stop in Waimea and go to the visitors center.
Written 27 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Brent R
1 contribution
Feb 2020 • Couples
Drove all the way up. It's a one lane road with nothing but volcanic rock on both sides. We saw maybe 15 other cars on the way up and back
Written 9 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

eaglecadd
Kailua-Kona, HI352 contributions
Jul 2019
The protests over the Thirty Meter Telescope continue and access to Mauna Kea is stopped, tourists can drive easily up onto Mauna Loa for the great views and star gazing.
Written 22 November 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Armando G
Santa Fe Springs29 contributions
Jun 2019
A must visit, rented a SUV, filled the gas tank at Cosco's, preceded to Mauna Loa, a steep incline going up at a steddy pace. There was markers, at different intervals monitoring Mauna Loa. Construction was being done at the base of where an encampment of those who were monitoring the Observatory as well self contained encampments for exploratory research, which was confirmed on 60 minutes. We from a cloudy misty sky to a bright blue sky, to cloudy overcast and light rain an humid mist. As we ascended to the top we could see a break in the weather, clear sky, the Observatory's where open, as we approached they closed. We got off to see what it was like, within 20 seconds I could feel the pressure of the altitude. It hit me like a ton of bricks. With in seconds the temperature dropped to 45" degrees, with a misty wind blowing light rain, felt like bebee's hit my skin, I took a windbreaker, in case of rain and drop of temperature. You could see open vents of steam, coming from Mauna Loa, signs not to venture into the area cordoned off. An adventure for those wanting to do, something out of the norm of laying on the beach, and exploring hidden treasures. Would like to visit at night and see the sky at its splendor.
Written 6 August 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mark C
Sheboygan Falls, WI240 contributions
Apr 2019 • Couples
As has been noted here, this is NOT the astronomical observatory, it's a weather observatory and is not open to the public, although their website does offer that if you want a tour, you can call them. We didn't have time for that, as our intention was to hike the Observatory Trail to the summit of Mauna Loa (we failed, this is a tough hike). That said, this was still a good day. We arrived early in the morning before the clouds built up, and the view across the valley to Mauna Kea and the actual astronomical observatory were breathtaking, worth the 20 miles of winding one lane road with dozens of blind hills and corners - go slowly here. There is parking for about 3 vehicles just outside the observatory where you can pick up the trail, at about 11000 feet. If you intend to hike, come prepared, the air is thin and it's cool to cold all day, year round. Daytime highs rarely reach 60 F and nights are commonly in the 20s F. Bring extra food and water in case you get stuck out overnight, it would be impossible to follow this trail in the dark as it's just rock cairns (ahu in Hawaiian) made of lava, which don't stand out well against the hundreds of acres of lava on which they're built. It's fairly steep and again, the altitude makes it tough. It's also rocky and uneven, have light but sturdy footwear. To add to the challenge, most afternoons clouds will build up and move up the mountain reducing visibility and adding a damp chill to the air. But the views are incredible. If you do go here, please turn off your engine and run it as little as possible near the observatory, as the emissions will interfere with their measurements.
Written 6 May 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Rajkathane
Bedford, UK45 contributions
Nov 2018 • Couples
This is a tough activity. You climb from sea level to 14,000+ft within 1 hour so expect problems with acclimatisation (head ache, serious breathlessness etc). You get to the top at sunset, then it gets very cold. There is ice at the top around the year. You have to be passionate (and crazy and determined) to want to do star gazing at that altitude and the cold and the wind-chill. The temperatures can drop to below -3C. And you have to stand outside in the chill wind for over 1 1/2 hours. But if you hack it, the experience is truly unique. We saw Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn with its glorious rings, Andromeda galaxy and the M2 galaxy, various other celestial objects, our own Milky Way galaxy and finally our own moon, because it was so close to the full moon night. Seeing the moon and its various craters was an amazing sight. If you can choose a no-moon night, you will be able to see other spectacular sights.

The guide was very knowledgeable about astronomy and geography. He explained about the types of volcanoes, how they form etc.

If you are adventurous enough and mad enough to want to do it, make sure you wrap up warm with many layers of thin clothing (thick woollen clothing are not so effective in keeping you warm). Your typical pick-up time is around 2 PM and you are returned at about 9PM.
Written 22 March 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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MAUNA LOA OBSERVATORY: All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

Frequently Asked Questions about Mauna Loa Observatory