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
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.