Route 200, known locally as Saddle Road, traverses the width of the Island of Hawaiʻi, from downtown Hilo to its junction with Hawaii Route 190 near Waimea. The road was considered one of the most dangerous paved roads in the state, with many one-lane bridges and areas of marginally maintained pavement. Most of the road has now been repaved, and major parts have new re-alignments to modern standards. The highway reaches a maximum elevation of 6,632 feet (2,021 m) and is subject to fog and low visibility. Many rental car companies used to prohibit use of their cars on Saddle Road, but some now permit use of the road. The highway experiences heavy use as it provides the shortest driving route from Hilo to Kailua-Kona and access to the slopes of Mauna Loa and the Mauna Kea Observatories.
In reality, the road is not all that bad. There are plenty of higher reaching roads in California. CA120 at Tioga Pass in the Yosemite Area (9,943 ft. / 3,031 m) is the highest highway pass in California. CA38 at Onyx Summit (8,443 ft. / 2,573 m) is the highest pass in southern California. Furthermore, many of the desolate, dust covered dirt OHV roads in the California deserts are far more scary. More people face danger on the back roads of Death Valley than on Saddle Road.
However, the difference in terrain between the two ends of Saddle Road is quite remarkable. Even more remarkable is a very similar, yet very different pair of hills located at the two ends.
|Grassy Twin Hills near Waimea end of Saddle Road|
|Bare Twin Hills near Volcanic Summit end of Saddle Road|
OTHER VIEWS FROM WAIMEA END
OTHER VIEWS FROM VOLCANIC SUMMIT END