March 3, 2017
Winter on Maunakea - Have Fun, and be Safe!

Winter has returned, blanketing Maunakea with fresh snow and transforming the mountain into a winter wonderland. It's beautiful and inviting, great for amateur winter enthusiasts, especially for us who live in Hawaii. The Office of Maunakea welcomes all who would like to enjoy the snow. Here are some safety tips and reminders when planning a trip to the summit snow areas.
Everyone traveling to Maunakea is encouraged to stop at the Visitor Information Station (VIS) at the 9,200 foot level to allow your body time to acclimate to the change in elevation. The VIS opens at noon every day of the year. VIS staff members, volunteers and OMKM Rangers are on hand to answer questions and provide information on road and weather conditions.
Please note that individuals in the following categories are advised not to travel to the summit:
  • Children under the age of 16 are discouraged from traveling beyond the Visitor Information Station    
  • Pregnant women
  • Persons with high blood pressure, heart or respiratory conditions
  • Scuba divers with less than 24 hours rest after their last dive
  • Anyone who has been drinking alcohol (consumption of alcohol is strongly discouraged on Maunakea)

Snow Recreation
The use of equipment not designed for use in the snow (such as boogie boards, inner tubes or other devices not equipped with brakes or directional control on snow or ice) is discouraged. Devices without a braking or directional system are prone to accidents. Sharp unseen rocks are sometimes hidden under thin layers of snow and hard to steer around.
Snow mobiles and all off road vehicle use is prohibited.
Be aware of falling ice on the observatory buildings and other structures at the summit.
Be Prepared
Sunscreen, sunglasses and protective clothing recommended.
Hikers should register at the Visitor Information Station and never hike alone.
Driving Precautions
The unpaved 8-mile gravel road features a 5,000-foot climb to the summit.
Sections of the road can be extremely rough with steep grades of up to 15
percent and ice and snow can add to the danger.
Four-wheel drive vehicles are a must when driving past the Onizuka Visitor Information Station to the summit. Use low range gear when descending from the summit to prevent the brakes from overheating and failing.
To check on the weather conditions before you travel to Maunakea click here or call 808-935-6268.

The Office of Maunakea Management is charged with day-to-day management of the Mauna Kea Science Reserve as prescribed in the Master Plan. The adoption of the Mauna Kea Science Reserve Master Plan by the University of Hawaii Board of Regents in June 2000 marked a critical milestone in the management of Maunakea.


Meetings and public hearings spanning a period of nearly two years went into the formulation of the Master Plan, which established management guidelines for the next 20 years. The Master Plan reflected the community's deeply rooted concerns over the use of Maunakea, including respect for Hawaiian cultural beliefs, protection of environmentally sensitive habitat, recreational use of the mountain, and astronomy research.   


It places the focus of responsibility with the University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH). The UH-Hilo Chancellor established the Office of Maunakea Management and the Board of Regents established the Maunakea Management Board in the fall of 2000. The Maunakea Management Board in turn formed Kahu Ku Mauna, a council comprised of Hawaiian cultural resource persons to serve as advisors.
OMKM Mission

To achieve harmony, balance and trust in the sustainable management and stewardship of Mauna Kea Science Reserve through community involvement and programs that protect, preserve and enhance the natural, cultural and recreational resources of Maunakea while providing a world-class center dedicated to education, research and astronomy.


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