Above: Loop Road is a popular camping, hiking, hunting and picnicking area for Kauai residents.
It had been awhile since we traveled the Loop Road past the Keahua Arboretum, so we decided to take a little trip down the dirt road into Kauai’s interior on Labor Day 2017. Last time we went, in 2015, Loop Road was well-maintained, with gravel filling in old potholes. That was not the case this time. We are here to report that Loop Road, as of Labor Day 2017, is in disrepair. Do not attempt the road unless you have a sturdy four-wheel drive vehicle.
A trip down Loop Road is always an adventure. Loop Road becomes a dirt road at the Keahua Arboretum and it ends several miles later at the Weir concrete dam near the island’s famed Blue Hole. Along the way is a jungle drive that is something out of Jurassic Park. And we don’t make the Jurassic Park comment lightly. The Jurassic Park Gate movie scene was actually filmed on Loop Road and the concrete posts to the gate still remain.
Above: The Jurassic Park Gate concrete posts.
Although Loop Road has never been in the best shape, recent conditions have reduced travel down the road to a bumpy crawl. We made it as far as the Jurassic Park gate before parking our Jeep as the road worsened. A couple of drivers we talked with who had ventured further up the road described “hair-raising” road conditions.
Above: On Loop Road past the Jurassic Park Gate
Yet, despite conditions, there were more than a few vehicles on the road on this Labor Day. About a dozen vehicles had made it to the end of the road at the dam. We can’t think of a better place in the world to hang out on Labor Day than the Weir dam. There were also several families at the second spillway, about a half mile from the arboretum.
Above: Families enjoy the stream at the second spillway.
A bridge was completed earlier this year over the stream at Keahua Arboretum. Before the bridge completion, the spillway on the road at the stream hindered many smaller vehicles from going further up the road. It would be easy to blame the new bridge and increased traffic for the recent road conditions. But the second spillway doesn’t have a bridge, which limits traffic to Kauai residents who have four-wheel drive vehicles and the occasional tourists with Jeep rentals. Most likely, recent road conditions are the natural results of daily rains followed by spurts of the baking sun.
Above: The new bridge at the Keahua Arboretum
Above: With the new bridge completed, the spillway is now a safer place.