Discover Scenic Viewpoints At This Must-Visit Hawaii State Park

One thing America has is an abundance of state parks. We've got small ones, large ones, cold ones, warm ones, and one of the most beautiful is in Hawaii on the green island of Kauai. (It's called the Garden Island for a reason, and receives more rainfall than any of its neighboring islands.)  The park is home to waterfalls, including a very unique one, a massive canyon with multiple hikes, and impressive lookout points. That place is Waimea Canyon State Park.

This park is often called the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," and the reason why is clear in the picture above. The canyon itself is 14 miles long, 3,600 feet deep, and a mile wide. It was created by volcanic eruptions and the Waimea River, and there is a lot to do here. The area is a bit inland from the southwest side of the island and has ADA accessible facilities like picnic tables and restrooms. You can drive through it, but if you walk/hike, you can really experience it. It's $5 to enter if you don't live in the state, and there is a parking fee, but it's worth it for this. Let's take a look at what to do and see in Waimea Canyon State Park on Kauai.

What to do in Waimea Canyon State Park

There are several scenic points to stop at, like Waimea Canyon Lookout at mile marker 10, looking over the canyon. If you want to do a hike, head to Kalalau Lookout at mile 18, where the walk starts at Ke'e Beach. A mile further you can visit Puu o Kila, which is the furthest place in the park you can drive. The Puu HinaHina lookout at mile 13 is small, but the views are incredible.

There are plenty of hikes here, like the Kukui Trail, which is only suitable for expert hikers and takes you to the bottom of the canyon. If that's too much, there are a couple of moderate hikes like the Black Pipe Trail which covers 8 miles. One hike you should take is the Canyon Trail (also called Waipoo Falls Trail), which takes around two hours to the top of the Waipoo waterfall. Note that it can be steep in spots and slippery after rain. 

As waterfalls go, Waipoo Falls is the big one, with an 800-foot drop, which you may recognize from the beginning of the show "Fantasy Island." Off the Kalalau Trail is the Hanakapiai Falls, with a 300-foot drop, and just outside the park is Opaekaa Falls, which you can see from your car. One more thing you should visit is the Waialeale Blue Hole, which is a stunning natural pool reachable by a hiking trail of the same name.

Red Dirt Waterfall stop on the way

On the road to the Waimea Canyon State Park, there is something you need to stop for, whether you do it on the way in or the way out. That's the Red Dirt waterfall. It's 1.6 miles away from the park entrance on State Highway 550, and it comes up on Google Maps, so it is easy to find and often busy during peak tourist season. It's on the left side at the 23-mile marker, which we wanted to make sure to mention since there's no address.

As you can see from the picture, it's absolutely gorgeous and not something you can find just anywhere. The unique red color of the dirt is thanks to the basalt rock which contains iron. It's slippery there, and you cannot drink the water (it contains the bacteria leptospirosis) or jump in (it is very shallow), but it's one of those things you just cannot afford to miss if you're going to visit the park. You can park on one side and cross the road to check it out. Just make sure to watch for traffic.