Saddle Road on the Big Island

Old Jan 7th, 2009, 12:44 PM
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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?
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 12:56 PM
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We drove it (in a friend's car) once. It's not that bad.
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 01:02 PM
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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.
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 01:04 PM
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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.
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 01:34 PM
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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 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.
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 01:59 PM
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:
http://www.hiloliving.com/DrivingSaddleRoad.html
http://www.hawaiihighways.com/photos-Saddle-Road.htm
http://archives.starbulletin.com/200...s/story06.html
http://archives.starbulletin.com/200...ws/story7.html
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 02:13 PM
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Thanks all.

John, great pictures.
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 02:49 PM
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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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