In Hawai'ian, 'Iao (pronounced EE-ow) means "cloud supreme"
Iao Valley was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1972
Located in Central Maui just west of Wailuku and home to one of Maui's most recognizable landmarks, Kuka`emoku (the Iao Needle), an erosional feature which rises 1200 feet from the valley floor. For the best view of the needle, visit in the morning as it is often obscured by cloud cover later in the day.
The park is 10 miles long and is 4,000 acres of lush landscape and easy hiking paths.
There is a 0.6 mile paved pedestrian path that leads to the Iao needle viewing point and provides a scenic lookout with expansive views of the valley.
Aside from its natural tropical beauty, sacred Iao Valley has great historical significance. In 1790 it was the site of the battle of Kepaniwai where the forces of Kamehameha I conquered the Maui army and ultimately changed the course of Hawaiian history.
Families can also take a rainforest walk or explore interactive exhibits at the Hawaii Nature Center, which is also located within Iao Valley.
Also within Iao Valley is the Kepaniwai Park's Heritage Gardens. Since 1952, they have memorialized Maui's multicultural history. Scale models of ethnic buildings and gardens representing the immigration of Hawaiian, Filipino, Chinese, American missionary, Japanese, Korean, and Portuguese cultures are the park's highlight. There are restrooms and picnic tables in the gardens as well so be sure to pack your picnic basket! Iao Valley is located at the end of Iao Valley Road (Highway 32). It is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The entrance fee is $5.00 per car. There is no fee for Hawaii residents or for walk-in visitors.