Located 4000 feet above sea level, the climate and flora changes dramatically throughout the park: You can find everything from Kaua’i native plants to a redwood grove, waterfalls, ocean views, vistas over the Kalalau Valley, a wealth of endangered bird species, and even festivals and events.
Get up here early to have the best chance at catching a glimpse of the Kalalau Valley spilling into the ocean. When you arrive, pop into the museum for some natural history, trail maps, and plenty of up to date information about the park.
The most unusual hike in the park is the Pihea Trail. A boardwalk created through the Alakai Swamp allows visitors an easier trek through this extremely wet region, which is home to most of the remaining native Kaua’i birds and trees. However, even with the wooden walkway, thigh-high deep mud is not uncommon here. Wear sturdy shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.
Make sure to rinse off your shoes before walking into the forest as seeds lodged in the creases can drop into the land and start a new invasive species of plant. Here you will see a wealth of endangered birds, which should not be disturbed under any circumstances.
On the way up to the park, be sure to check out Waimea Canyon, the crown jewel of the park, a 14-mile long red and green canyon, punctuated with waterfalls and hiking trails.