Top things to do in Mauna Kea

Top Choice Landmark in Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea's Summit Area

At 13,796ft in the air, you are above 40% of the atmosphere and 90% of its water vapor – apparently perfect conditions for growing the giant mushroom-like observatories that have popped up around the summit. Glisten…
Top Choice Archaeological Site in Mauna Kea

Lake Waiʻau

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 legends say it's bottomless, connecting the realm of the heavens an…
Historic Site in Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea Adz Quarry

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 called an adz. The scale of the operation is difficult to ap…
Observatory in Mauna Kea

Subaru Telescope

When it came online in 1999, Japan's 8.2m (29.6ft) Subaru Telescope was the most expensive observatory ever constructed. The 22-ton mirror is one of the largest optical mirrors in existence. The telescope recently h…
Observatory in Mauna Kea

WM Keck Observatory

Mirrors larger than 8m (26.2ft) are so heavy that gravity distorts them as they move. Keck's breakthrough design overcame that limitation in 1993 by using a series of 36 hexagonal mirror segments mounted and indepen…
Observatory in Mauna Kea

Thirty Meter Telescope (planned)

Walk behind the Keck Twins and look northwest and you'll see...nothing. Down there is the ideal location for the TMT, which supersizes Keck's many-small-mirrors design to create the world's most advanced and powerfu…
Observatory in Mauna Kea

Submillimeter Array

These eight 6m (19.7ft) radio telescopes work together (via supercomputer) to create image resolutions equal to an antenna 0.3 miles in diameter. The SMA detects millimeter and sub-millimeter radiation, allowing sci…
Observatory in Mauna Kea

United Kingdom Infrared Telescope

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 new summit management plan for growth. Among its discoveries …
Observatory in Mauna Kea

University of Hawai‘i 0.9m Telescope

Hoku Kea was meant to be a teaching telescope, but the original 0.9m (3ft) mirror was delivered warped and the manufacturer went bankrupt. So, it has mostly been inactive for the last six years, making it an easy ta…
Mountain in Mauna Kea

Puʻu Wekiu

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 (13,796ft). It's opposite the UH 2.2m Telescope where there is ample…