Observing at WMKO
Maunakea Visits for Observers



It is possible to arrange a daytime visit to Keck Observatory for observers working from Waimea. The visit should be scheduled during a weekday, not on holidays or weekends.

Please relay your request for an observatory visit via the “Comments” field when submitting your online VSQ Lodging Reservation form.


One of the Observatory's core values is Safety and good health is a prerequisite to spending time on Maunakea. Please familiarize yourself with the high altitude health information and consult your personal physician with any issues or concerns.

Tours are scheduled in advance to accommodate our operations and research priorities. We recommend that your visit is the day before or 48 hours after an observing run and not during, since it is an all day event. Visitors must be prepared for last minute cancellations due to hazardous weather conditions or other emergencies.

The interior of the telescope domes are kept chilled to match the evening ambient temperatures near freezing. It is important to dress appropriately with layers, long pants, covered low heel shoes, heavy coat, UV filtering sunglasses and sunscreen.

Observers must supply their own four-wheel drive vehicle (4WD) to transport themselves to the observatory. Most rental car companies restrict driving on the Maunakea Access dirt road. Harper Car & Truck Rental allows driving on these roads. See Transportation for more information.

There are important guidelines to follow when driving to Maunakea. The summit access road is winding, steep and dangerous. Maunakea weather can deterirate rapidly and ice, snow, fog or high winds can happen anytime of the year. Follow all posted warnings. There are grades up to 17% on the roads ALWAYS USE LOW GEAR when heading downhill to avoid brake failure. Take it slow, be safe and don't take chances!

Road Conditions and Closure: For information related to road closure and road conditions, please call 808-935-6268 for daily updates or see Maunakea Road Conditions.

For additional information regarding Health and Safety Advisories and visiting Maunakea, see Maunakea Visitor Information Station website.

We have a Visitor Gallery at Keck Observatory - open to the public from: 10a - 3p Monday - Friday.



Big Island map from Kona airport to WMKO

Traveling to Mauna Kea from:

  • Waimea map *
  • Kona map *
  • Hilo map
  • Mid Level (base camp) map

    Maunakea Summit map

    *Note: The saddle road entrance at the 6mm has been changed; it is now at the 14mm, 2 miles South of the Waikoloa road junction.





    This page last updated 18-Aug-2017, gm