Scenic USA - Hawaii

Iao Valley

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Iao Valley - Iao Valley State Monument, Maui County, Hawaii

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Photography

     Far enough to the north to be out of the Iao Needle and Kinihapai Stream - Iao Valley State Monument, Hawaii rain-shadow of Haleakala, Iao Valley is a lush tropical setting for one of Maui's most recognizable landmarks, the 1200 foot Iao Needle. The volcanic remnant is covered in greenery and rises up from the V-shaped valley. Dubbed the Yosemite of the Pacific by Mark Twain, the Iao Valley State Monument takes in a 10 mile section of the valley. Only a small portion of the park is accessible, but a paved pathway and stairs lead up to a viewpoint where the iconic Needle can be seen reaching skyward into the clouds. An early start in the day, or perhaps a little luck will fulfill your wishes to see the Needle, often cloaked in a layer of clouds. Iao, meaning cloud supreme offers a strong hint about the cloud coverage in the park. Not only does the rain keep this section of the island green, but fuels valley streams and several towering waterfalls seen from the park.
     Not only is the Iao Valley beautiful, but preserves a strong spiritual significance to the Hawaiian people. Once a gathering place to celebrate the Makahiki Festival and the bounty of Lono a thousand years ago, the Valley is also Iao Needle Viewpoint - Iao Valley State Monument, Hawaii the site of several brutal battles during King Kamehameha I's efforts to control all the Hawaiian Islands. While war between the islands lasted for years, one of the most famous battles in Hawaiian history occurred in 1790 when Kamehameha's army destroyed the Maui forces.
     Iao Valley State Monument is easy to reach from Wailuku, just on the outskirts of the city. The parking lot is just beyond the entrance where a small entry fee is required. Visitors may enjoy a pathway alongside the Iao Stream, through a small botanical garden or a climb to the Iao Needle shelter and viewing area. Informal paths lead down to the stream where a few park visitors may be seen stopping to cool off.

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