|Hawaii Highways road photos --
(Big Island part 5 of 6 -- other
Big Island parts: Saddle Road ·
Closures · Red
Road · Other
These nine photos cover the notoriously steep access road from the Waipio Overlook at the
western end of Honokaa-Waipio Road (state route 240), down into the Waipio
Valley. While the road is now paved and only about ¾ mile long,
the 25% average grade (said to be up to 45% at some points), taking the
road about 900 feet down to the valley floor, is steep enough to destroy
brakes on the way down, and stall engines on the way up. The road is therefore
restricted to 4x4s (which you'll need anyway to navigate the unpaved roads
on the valley floor), and hikers with strong legs.
NOTE: In case you want more detail, clicking some of the photos
below (for now, just some from my 2001 trip) will call up enlarged, higher-quality
(less .jpg compression) versions. Those alternate versions have larger
file sizes, so please be patient while they download.
Warnings: As the signs below
note, non-4x4 vehicles are prohibited on this road, even though it is paved.
Vehicles must descend in first gear, low range, to avoid brake failure.
Driving non-4x4 vehicles into the valley can be, and has been, fatal. Survivors
may also be unable to get their non-4x4 vehicles out of the valley without
an extremely expensive tow. If you don't have a 4x4, there are tours that
will take you into the valley and back, or you can hike on the road (a
popular option, at least for the young and healthy).
Also, downhill and pedestrian traffic must yield to uphill
traffic (at one of several pullouts, such as the one shown below), so the
uphill traffic can maintain momentum to make it back to the top of the