Kauai isn’t called “The Garden Island” for nothing – much of it is covered with lush vegetation and wonderful wilderness. The island is home to the largest canyon in the Pacific, and right next door to that massive state park is another – Koke’e State Park – which means that after you visit the canyon you can spend even more time communing with nature.
Actually, combining a visit to Waimea Canyon State Park and Koke’e State Park is a really great idea, especially because the ranger station for Waimea Canyon is actually in Koke’e State Park! Koke’e covers more than 4,300 acres and is absolutely full of excellent hiking trails. The area is known for its many native plants and animal species, which thrive here partly due to the high amounts of annual rainfall. Lush doesn’t even begin to describe it.
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The hiking here is plentiful, and there are lots of hikes for all different skill levels. There are also cabins in Koke’e State Park where you can overnight if you’re combining the two adjacent parks for some serious hiking adventures. Bird watching is a popular pastime in this area, and if you know what you’re looking for you can find just as much in the flora department to fascinate you. Many of the trails through Koke’e State Park also have great views of Waimea Canyon, which is a bonus.
There is also a museum in Koke’e State Park called Koke’e Natural History Museum, which is where you’ll also find the ranger station for both parks. It’s quite small, but it’s open every day throughout the year and is dedicated to helping visitors understand what they’re seeing throughout the parks in this area. You can also get basic trail information for hiking opportunities in both parks.
Location: 15 miles north of Kekaha on Koke‘e Road (Highway 550) at 3600 feet elevation; adjoins Waimea Canyon State Park.
Hours: Daily during daylight hours
Admission: Blissfully free!