Līhuʻe – Barring bad weather or unforeseen delays in repairs or new management implementation, Hā’ena State Park and the Kalalau Trail in the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park will reopen to visitors in early-to-mid June. The official reopening date will be announced in May.
The parks have been closed since last April’s devastating flooding which wiped out park infrastructure and caused multiple landslides along the Kalalau Trail. Repairs and new improvements are continuing and are anticipated to be completed in early June.
In accordance with a park master plan and an Environmental Impact Statement adopted in 2018, improvements installed to replace damaged ones will support a new management paradigm which includes reduced parking and visitor limits. This is an effort to decrease the impacts to park resources, mitigate the crushing effects of over-tourism on the adjacent rural community, and enhance visitor experiences.
The new advance reservation system will be available prior to the park reopening and will coincide with a new county-supported shuttle system. It will allow visitors, with reservations, to access the park without contributing to the traffic and parking woes that have plagued the region for years. Limited parking reservations will also be available, with a new fee system in place. Hawai‘i residents are not subject to the new fees.
Alan Carpenter, Assistant Administrator for the DLNR Division of State Parks explained, “For permitted overnight campers along the Kalalau Trail, the reservation system will function as it always has, and those with permits to camp will NOT be subject to the visitor limits. However, under the new management scheme, overnight visitors to the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park will not be able to leave their vehicles at Hā’ena State Park. They will need to take the shuttle or arrange for other transportation to the trailhead. The Kalalau camping reservation system will be re-activated once the opening date is finalized.”
State Parks maintenance crews have been working over the past few months to stabilize and clear any locations on the Kalalau Trail damaged or impacted by landslides. Since February a volunteer group, the Friends of the Kalalau Trail have conducted twice monthly work days to clear and repair the trail from its beginning at Kē’ē Beach to Hanakāpīʻai Stream, which is the first two miles of the trail and the only section that is open without having to get an overnight permit.
Once the parks reopen visitors can expect construction delays on Kūhiō Highway as bridges will still be under repair. The highway is the only way into the area. There will also be new no-parking zones established and enforced outside of the park. Visitors should purchase both their park reservations and a seat on the new shuttle to assure the most efficient and stress-free visit.
State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell said, “We appreciate and encourage patience as we establish this new system of park access, transportation, and management to mitigate the impacts of traffic on Kauai’s north shore and to make the park experience more enjoyable for residents and visitors alike.”