Updated: December 3, 2023
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources issued an update saying the reopening of ʻĪao Valley State Monument is postponed until further notice.
The closure went into effect on Aug. 1, 2022 to allow crews to complete the final phase of a slope stabilization project and parking lot improvements. It was initially slated to reopen on Jan. 15, 2023, but the closure was extended until April 15, 2023 to allow for continued slope stabilization work.
The latest announcement has the monument closed until further notice, but does not specify the scope of work that remains.
The park is well known for Kuka‘emoku “ʻĪao Needle,” an erosional feature which juts 1,200 feet from the valley floor. The Wailuku River also winds through the lush valley with a botanical garden located along the bank.
The valley holds significant historical, cultural and spiritual significance as the sacred burial place of chiefs, and the location of the 1790 Battle of Kepaniwai.
The closure affects the area above Ke Kula O Piʻilani (the old Hawaiʻi Nature Center site).
In 2016, the monument was closed indefinitely due to extensive damage from heavy rain and flooding that occurred on the night of Sept. 13 and early morning on Sept. 14, 2016. The event was described as a “100 year flood,” and resulted in millions of dollars in damage, direct impacts to about 20 families, and the removal of tons of debris.
A century earlier, on Jan. 18, 1916 a flood claimed the lives of at least 13 people and destroyed 34 homes, according to Maui News articles at the time.
After the initial closure in 2016, the area was temporarily reopened until required permits were finalized for additional work involving slope stabilization.