Navigate Saddle Road
Saddle Road (Route 200) cuts across the high valley, or saddle, between the island’s two massive volcanic mountains, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Once considered a treacherous route, a series of road improvements have made most of the trip safer and smoother. It is the shortest route from Kailua-Kona to Hilo, accessible from Route 190 near Waimea.
This route provides access to the slopes of Mauna Loa and the observatories atop Mauna Kea. In good weather, the trip requires about two hours of concentrated drive time.
The road passes through a wide variety of ecological, climate and geological zones as it climbs to more than 6,000 feet and back down again. Under the sway of these two great mountains, the sense of silence becomes perceptible, and it’s almost a surprise when the streets of Hilo come back into view.