Iao Valley reopened on August 5th following an almost year long closure resulting from the devastating floods that occurred in September 2016. At that time, the heavy rains and flash flooding caused substantive damage to the park, washing away trails, eroding roads and even changing the course of the Iao Stream. The almost $2million repair project remains ongoing but additional permit approval is required. While the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) awaits the permits it has reopened the park. It appears likely that the park may close again in the fall or at a minimum be back under construction.
Now is a great time to visit – or revisit – this gorgeous area!
The Iao valley was sacred to the Hawaiians and was forbidden to all but Hawaiian royalty; indeed Hawaiian chiefs were buried in this valley. In 1790 King Kamehameha I, fighting to unite the Hawaiian islands, defeated the Maui army here at the Battle of Kepaniwai.
This valley is the second wettest place in Hawai’i – the summit receives an average of over an inch of rain a day. The Iao needle is a 1200 foot high peak that is viewable from the easy to reach observation deck. There is an abundance of tropical flora to be seen and an exhibition area designed to show what the valley was like before contact with westerners. There are small pools and the stream that many like to wade or swim in. For those more adventurous there are other trails that lead further in and up the valley.
As with hiking in any natural area, be sure to review the weather forecast before you go – flash floods are a hazard here – and bring adequate water and sunscreen with you. Enjoy!