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travelinandgolfin Jan 7th, 2009 12:44 PM

Saddle Road on the Big Island
Just how bad is it?

I think rental agencies still don't allow you to drive it, but when looking at the road through google earth, it seems to be relatively good.

Two lanes, paved (from what I can tell) and the curves are all very gentle.

I've never driven it, but was thinking of trying it next month.

Any ideas on those who have driven it?

Gellers Jan 7th, 2009 12:56 PM

We drove it (in a friend's car) once. It's not that bad.

kgh8m Jan 7th, 2009 01:02 PM

I know a lot of people drive it, as there were a lot of rental cars along the road up Mauna Kea. I would say that there are a lot of potholes on the Western side (Dec 08). Apparently, the Eastern side has been improved recently, and they're looking to expand it.

The bigger problem we had was the dense, dense, dense fog when we took the Mauna Kea Summit Tours shuttle on that road. The road is narrow and a bit curvy, and I certainly wouldn't have felt comfortable driving in that fog.

kgh8m Jan 7th, 2009 01:04 PM

I'd say it's the potholes that probably lead to the rental car rule.

Also, the road from Saddle Road up to the Mauna Kea Visitor Center is pretty steep (of course, not as steep as the road from the visitor center to the top) -- we saw a handful of disabled cars on the side of that road.

JohnD Jan 7th, 2009 01:34 PM

Agree, it's not that bad, there are much worse roads on Lanai where you're allowed to drive a rental on, and I see bigger potholes on my commute to work #o than Saddle Road. A larger annoyance is that you can get stuck behind large, slow trucks with little room to pass. My guess is the rental car restriction may be related to the fact that this is an area where military training exercizes may be underway.:?

JohnD Jan 7th, 2009 01:59 PM


travelinandgolfin Jan 7th, 2009 02:13 PM

Thanks all.

John, great pictures.

bfrac Jan 7th, 2009 02:49 PM

I have always rented from Dollar and they allow driving on Saddle Road but you are restricted from driving up the Mauna Kea Summit Road. Definitely take a tour for that.

The Saddle Road is partly improved to a nice highway but as mentioned before the beginning from the west side is narrow and curvey. It really isn't any worse than back country roads where I live. Last year we followed (from a good distance) a tractor trailer hauling a backhoe up the road and it was very slow going. He actually stalled once on an incline so be sure to keep your distance and do not attempt to pass.

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