5/17/2021 update: Loop Road has reopened as of May 17th, 2021 reports the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). Repair efforts are continuing and only vehicles with 4-wheel drive capabilities and high clearance should access the road at this time, reports DLNR. The North fork low-water crossing may be usable in dry conditions, but construction of a new low-water crossing will still be required. Users should not attempt this low-water crossing during heavy rainfall events as it can become extremely hazardous. Loop Road, officially the Wailua Forest Management Road, had been closed following flood damage in 2018.
CREDIT: Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR)
At the Keahua Arboretum, Kuamoo Road (Route 580, and also known as Loop Road) becomes a dirt road that takes you farther into the interior of Kauai, past the Jurassic Park Gate and to near the island’s mystical Blue Hole. The primeval interior of Kauai is revealed on this drive, with fantastic views of tropical forests and shrouded mountains. At the end of the road is a parking area and a concrete dam used for water diversion. It’s about as close as you’ll ever get to a Jurassic Park experience.
There is a spillway to cross about a half-mile past the arboretum. Do not attempt to cross if the stream currents are too strong. There are also numerous water-filled potholes along the way where caution is urged. The length of the road past the arboretum is about 3.5 miles (7 miles round trip).
You should have a four-wheel-drive vehicle for this adventure. (Please note that Kauai rental vehicle contracts do not allow off-road use.) In fact, a standard four-wheel-drive vehicle may not be sufficient for the drive due to the horrible condition of the road in recent years. Only super-modified four-wheel-drive vehicles are now recommended for Loop Road.
Location at Google Maps
Loop Road Kauai Photos
Above: After the arboretum the road becomes a dirt road.
Above: The spillway about a half mile past the arboretum. This stream can become very dangerous during high waters. Do not attempt to cross if the currents are too strong. Due to sudden weather events on Kauai, it’s possible that the placid stream you crossed earlier is impassable on the way back, so carry food and water on your trip in case you get trapped on the far side.
Above: Panoramic view of the spillway. The power of the stream is evidenced by the huge tree stump that was washed downstream in heavy runoff.
There are numerous potholes on Loop Road, and they become bigger and more treacherous the farther you venture into the wet interior of Kauai.
Above: The yellow gate prior to the Jurassic Park Gate.
Above: The Jurassic Park Gate.
The road becomes even worse after the Jurassic Park Gate. This is a very wet area with constant precipitation and brief periods of the beaming Kauai sun.
Dirt bikes are perfectly suited for Loop Road.
Huge potholes near the end of the road make for a jarring ride.
Above: Parking and turnaround point at the end of the road.
Above: At the very end of the road is a weir concrete dam used to divert water. This is a popular picnic spot for local residents. The trail head for the trail to the Blue Hole is here.