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Iao Valley State Park

Iao valley is formed from the remenants of Maui's first volcano that formed the western part of the island(last eruption was approximately 1 million years ago and it is considered extinct). Iao valley is deep, narrow gorge 5 miles (8 km) long and flanked by heavily forested walls almost a mile in height.

Yearly Rainfall

There is an incredible amount of rainfall in the Iao Valley and it is a pretty good spot of the rest of Maui is getting a little to hot and you want to cool off. The mean annual precipitation at the highest reporting state (Puu Kukui - 5,788 feet) is greater than 355 inches per year! The precipitation is actually a combination of rainfall and the condensation of thick fog that surrounds the upper part of Iao Valley. Although there are no pictures of it here, I highly suggest coming to Iao Valley if it is raining on Maui as the waterfalls off of the cliffs here are spectacular!

Ioa Valley
Iao Needle

History of Iao Valley

Iao Needle (see left), a volcanic monolith 2,250 feet (686 m) high, soars nearly straigt up 1200 feet from the valley floor. This is widely considered a lookout for warriors of Maui and the view from the bottom is quite impressive.

'Iao Valley is the site of one of the Hawaii's most famous battles, the battle of Kepaniwai ("damming of the waters") in 1790 when King Kamehameha I destroyed the Maui army of Kalanikupule (his son) in an effort to unite the Hawaiian Islands. This was one of the first confrontations in the islands with use of cannon. It is said that the Iao river ran red with blood all the way to the ocean and that the number of warriors fallen held back the waters of the river, thus the name given to the battle.

Hiking Trails

There is a paved trail that runs through the park that is pretty easy walking, but the stairs to view the needle can be somewhat deceptive, as my calves were aching the next morning, but I was carrying 40lbs extra weight with the backpack and my 2 year old.

Other trails wind through the park, but none are well marked. I would suggest stopping at the Nature Center near the entrance and checking with guides there. The Nature Center also offers guided hikes, which are helpful to learn the history of the valley and also about the native plant and animal life in the park.

Iao Valley
Iao Valley Garden Area

Garden areas

A smalll garden area lies near the stream that shows examples of native Hawaiian plants and also plants imported by the original settlers of the islands.

Here you can get up close views of the different plant species of the island. This is where the guided walks help if you want to know everything regarding these plants.

Nature Center

Near the entrance of Iao Valley State Park there is a nature center with a small store and nature exhibits. The guided hikes mentioned above start from this location.

Heritage Gardens

Kepaniwai Park's Heritage Gardens (established 1952 and restored in 1994), has honored the multicultural history of the island of Maui. Scale models of ethnic buildings and gardens representing the immigration of various ethnic groups are the highlight of the park. It was a nice place for a picinc lunch and to walk around.

How to Get to Iao Valley

Take Highway 32 (Kaahumanu Road) west out of Wailuku. This road turns into Highway 320 which lead directly to the Iao Valley State Park.

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