Apollo Valley


Just past Mile 4 on the east side of the summit road, a washed-out valley full of grayish glacial till and rocks is a dead ringer for the surface of the moon. So much so that the Apollo astronauts trained here for their missions. It has continued to test the mettle of moon and Mars rovers over the years, and some of their knobby tire tracks are still faintly visible. Park only in designated areas.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Maunakea attractions

1. Very Long Baseline Array

1.05 MILES

One of 10 identical radio receivers that span 5351 miles from Mauna Kea to St Croix, US Virgin Islands. The $85 million project went online in 1993 and…

2. Mauna Kea Adz Quarry

1.42 MILES

Quarries scattered over 7.5 sq miles produced tons of exceptionally dense and fine-grained basalt (dubbed Hawaiʻiite) used to make a tool similar to an ax…

3. Lake Waiʻau

2.36 MILES

On an island with a conspicuous dearth of surface water, tiny Lake Waiʻau's existence on a porous lava mountain is something of an enigma. Hawaiian…

4. Puʻu Wekiu

2.57 MILES

Hawaiian cultural practitioners ask that visitors respect the sacred true summit of Mauna Kea and not hike the trail to the top of the cinder cone (13…

6. United Kingdom Infrared Telescope

2.74 MILES

Even though this 3.8m (12.5ft) telescope is the second-largest dedicated infrared telescope in the world, it will soon be decommissioned according to the…

7. University of Hawaiʻi 2.2m Telescope

2.75 MILES

UH2.2 (if you go metric, UH88 if you prefer inches) was a pioneer of Mauna Kea. As the first large telescope on the mountain (1970), its great imagery…

8. Gemini Northern Telescope

2.79 MILES

When this 26.6ft telescope is paired with its twin in Chile, they are able to cover almost the entire sky. In 2014, Gemini used speckle imaging to help…