The plain between the two highest peaks of Hawaii is a bizarre landscape filled with lava flows and volcanic cones. While most of them are into the lifeless range of ochre to brown there is one exception full of green. At close look it reveals dense vegetation on its three sides petering away towards the northwest. The microclimate of this tiny fertile planet surrounded by a barren universe is so incredible that it is worth the stop on the way to Mauna Kea summit or after its successful descent. Favourite occupation during the visit could be some bird watching, including strenuous search for the elusive red native bird of Hawaii or just plain enjoyment of the “countryside” through the veil of twisted trees.
We took saddle road on our trip to Mauna Kea. We left from the kona side & the road was really rugged and unmaintained however I live in Nevada and we have many roads like that. You do not need a 4x4 to drive it like alot of websites said. Part of saddle road is a one lane only so you need to becareful.
Even thouh we only made it to the visitors center for Mauna Kea because our car would not make it up the hill to the observatory it was still a beutiful site especially the view of Mauna Loa which had very unique colors. Mauna Kea is Hawaii's tallest volcano. It had very interesting scenery the whole drive. Once you actually get so far the whole thing is paved from there on out which is right before the turn off to go to Mauna Kea. It was rather chilli at the visitors center so I would sugges to take a coat. Another thing about Mauna Kea is it can get below zero so befor going up top check in with the visitors center for weather conditions.