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Hiking

When should you hike a trail? Some hikes lead to fascinating forests, some have tremendous views and others are rich in variety. Share your favorite trails with other hikers and nature lovers.

First of all; hiking on the Haiku Stairs is illegal and officially closed! A $ 1000 fine and an appearance in court was something we wanted to circumvent. Therefore, we had chosen the more difficult and dangerous trail through the Moanalua Valley. Anyhow, even trespassing will be prosecuted. Of course, when you reach the Haiku Stairs, you want to access them and take the best snap of your whole vacation. 

Haiku Stairs view from the summit

Most important for the hike is the weather. Pick out the day with the most stable weather and if it was dry the day before even better. Although Honolulu is dry rain may occur in the valley and on the ridge. You can’t avoid getting dirty on this trail. Don’t underestimate the trail difficulties. Much needed for the steep ascent and descent back through muddy and slippery soil are “mini” crampons. If you want to use the provided ropes gloves may be necessary. Do you like to do to the hike? Read all our insights first to be prepared and experience one of the most thrilling hikes ever.

Hiking Conditions and Crowds

The Moanalua Valley, especially the ridge to the Keahiakahoe summit and also the Haiku Stairs experience a lot of rain even during the drier season in summer. The exhausting hike can be done all year, but it’s easier to cope with all difficulties in the drier season. There is often a strong wind and fog which makes hiking along the ridge dangerous. Read on for detailed tips by season.

Windy Ridge Moanalua Valley

Spring (Low Season)

It starts to get drier, but the trail is still extremely muddy and slippery. The Moanalua stream may have a low flow and fording or hopping from stone to stone is necessary a couple of times. This improves in June. Temps along the trail is above 70°F, but it gets chilly on the ridge and the top due to the strong wind. The islands are not much crowded in spring. It starts to get busier in June, but still acceptable. June is one of the best months for this hike. Nevertheless, always check the weather forecast before; flooding can happen. 

Summer (Peak Season)

It’s drier but the humidity is higher, and it gets hot while hiking and climbing. If you can avoid, don’t travel to Oahu in July and August. Prices are at the highest and hotels are booked to capacity. 

Autumn (Low Season) 

September is usually the best month for the hike. The stream may be dried out and it’s easy to walk the first 2.8 miles / 4.5 km. It’s less busy on the island, and the temps are pleasant. October is fine as well. November gets wetter and trail conditions are getting worse. Monitor the clouds on the mountain ridge. It may be possible to hike, but it’s even more difficult and dangerous in rain and clouds. We can’t recommend hiking in the rain. 

Winter (Low and Peak Season) 

Expect more rain during the winter. It’s more likely that the Moanalua stream gets flooded. The north and east experience more rainfall. It’s the coldest time of the year but still up to 80°F in Honolulu at daytime. It's possible to hike the trail but expect the worst conditions when climbing up. The way back is even more slippery than usual. Don't hike in rain and clouds. The first part of December is still not too busy, but it gets crowded from the second half of December and in January. Although it’s not the best time for Hawaii hotels are fully booked and hotel rates are the highest. 

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This is a free guide with tips you can use for your next Death Valley visit! The desert in Death Valley is one of the hottest places on our planet! Between May and September the temperatures reach extreme highs and exceed 115 °F (46 °C). The best time to visit depends on what you’re looking for. Read on for our detailed tips:

Spring (March - early May)


Zabriskie Point by Giuseppe Milo, CC BY
This is a very popular time for a visit with pleasant temperatures. On the other hand, spring also brings the most wind. The blowing sand, which may last for days, can make camping uncomfortable. A real attraction is the gorgeous spring wildflowers. However, it’s an exception to see whole the desert filled with all kinds of colorful wildflowers. In some years, there are only a few. Regarding crowds: Keep in mind that spring is also a busy season. It gets very busy during spring break holidays from the last week of March through the week after Easter. Make sure to book well in advance for a spring visit.

Summer (mid-May – September)


Death Valley (July) by Murray Foubister, CC BY-SA cropped
Summer arrives early in Death Valley. In May, the average daily high is already 100 °F (38 °C). June, July, August are even hotter (up to 120 °F), as well as September. At least it’s a dry heat with low humidity, which helps a little. The month of August and early September also bring thunderstorms, sometimes causing dangerous flash floods. Always check the weather forecast. Camping or hiking is not recommended during these months with boiling heat. Hikes during the day in lower elevations are dangerous and can become life threatening because of the extreme temperatures. If you do anything outside at lower elevations: Do it until 10 AM. However, there are two summer hikes at higher elevations which can be done: Wildrose Peak and Telescope Peak. Most visitors tour by car on the paved road along the main Points of Interest. Despite the heat, July, and August are the months with the highest visitation from Europe and other continents. However, almost all of them stay in their car for a short tour between 2 hours and half a day or a little more, while stopping at the main viewpoints. Also read the 9 Summer Tips in the section below.

Autumn (October – November)


Death Valley - Badwater Basin (October) by Paxson Woelber, CC BY cropped
Warm but more pleasant temperatures and usually clear skies. You may hike at lower elevations now. But still, start early to avoid the possible midday heat. Ranger programs and camping season begins in October. It’s relatively uncrowded, except for the Death Valley ‘49ers Week and Thanksgiving (both in November).

Winter (December - February)


Death Valley National Park (December) by Rob Rattray, CC BY cropped
Temperatures drop, but it never gets cold except at higher elevations. However, since it's cooler in the mornings, we suggest that you bring an extra jacket. Less daylight but it usually lasts long enough: Sunset - Sunrise. Employees and park rangers say, the months of January and February are among the best months weather-wise. January and February bring the most rain, but it usually doesn’t rain heavily. Soaking rain, going for hours, can happen but it’s the exception. Winters also bring snow to the higher elevations and coat Telescope Peak (Panamint Mountains) in white. December, January and most of February are quieter months. Except for public holidays/holiday weekends (see below: Avoiding Tourist Crowds).


Weather (Overview)

A very helpful weather and climate overview can be downloaded here: Death Valley | NPS | Weather & Climate. Rule of thumb for strenuous and longer outside activities: During summer, stay at higher elevations. During winter: Longer activities at lower elevations are possible. Bring layer of clothes for higher elevations.


 

Highlight (Blooming Wildflowers)

Depending on the winter rain, it can be a great year for wildflowers or a moderate one with less blooming flowers. Check the official website: NPS Death Valley - Wildflowers. Another great website with updates and photos for each year: Death Valley NP Wildflower Reports


Desert Early Bloom - Death Valley by Marc Cooper, CC BY cropped

Peak Blooming Periods:

  • Mid-February - Mid April: Lower elevations (Areas: Jubilee Pass, Highway 190 near the Furnace Creek Inn, base of Daylight Pass)
  • Early April - Early May: 2000 to 4000 ft. Elevations (Area: Panamint Mountains)
  • Early May - Mid July: Above 4000 ft. Elevations (Area: High Panamints)

Avoiding Tourist Crowds

The busiest times are: Spring (March/April) - even busier from the last week of March till the week after Easter - and summer from July to August (mostly visitors from Europe and other countries), as well as September. According to a park ranger, the least crowded months are December and January. However, even during low season, it gets busy on certain days: From Christmas to New Year's, on Martin Luther King Day weekend in January, and Presidents' Day weekend in February.

To avoid the crowds at the main points of interest during peak months: We know it’s a challenge, but get up very early and try to reach most destinations around 8 AM, at least before 9 AM. It’s worth it, as you’ll dodge the crowds at beautiful places like Zabriskie Point, Badwater Basin, Devil’s Golf Course, etc. In the summer, you’ll not only beat the crowds but the boiling heat as well. On a single morning, you could cover the quick 2-hour tour: Badwater | Zabriskie | Devils Course - Google Maps

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Best time for hiking the Kalalau trail is the "dry" season between May and October anyway rain always occur. After Hanakāpīʻai Beach it is almost impossible to hike this trail in very wet conditions. It is very slippery and muddy on the narrow footpath.

Trail closure due to immense flooding mid-April 2018. The highway and bridges to the Haena State Park got also flooded and destroyed.  The park and trail remain closed for an indefinite time. Local people believe it will take almost a year due to the massive destruction. If you need to get your permit refunded, you have to call (808) 274-3444, but you get a 10% administration fee deducted. Do you look for alternatives to explore the Napali Coast? Scroll down for more details.  

Weather

Kauai is wetter than the other Hawaiian Islands, therefore, called "The Garden Island". The rainy season starts in November and lasts until April. The north and east coast gets more rain than south and west which is the leeward side. Mostly showers are short, often in the night, and the sun returns quickly. 

Crowds

Shoulder season in spring between mid-April to mid-June and in fall from September to October. Crowded during summer with hikers and kayaks, during Christmas, New Year's Eve, Independence Day and June 9th is a bank holiday. The trail is almost always fully booked. You have to get your permit far in advance. Tuesdays are not always full due to Haena Park closure.

Parking at the Kalalau Trail

Limited parking at Haena State Park. Arrive early the car park fills up quickly. 

Don't leave any luggage in the car. It is not safe, and the car might be broken-up.

Where to Stay

You can stay at Haena State Park and campground, but it is closed every Monday from 10 a.m. to Tuesday 12 p.m. for maintenance. The reason that the Kalalau trail is often not fully booked on Tuesdays. Be aware of leaving your valuables and bags in the car is not recommended. We, a part of the team, saw a couple of rental cars on Kauai which had a broken side window and glass on the ground respectively. 

Close by is the town of Princeville. Perfectly located in the north to buy your groceries and to enjoy the Queen's Bath. Also not far away is the gorgeous Hanalei Beach Park. Have a closer look at the different private apartment rentals and hotels. Princeville accommodations

[updated by whentobewhere]

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The Ballroom Overhang is a hiking highlight in the Paparoa National Park. This trail includes 8 river crossings one way and can be hiked only in right weather conditions. The Fox River shouldn’t be higher than your knees at the first crossing. Check the weather forecast before hiking. Consider if there is rain predicted the water level could rise quickly and hikers can get trapped. It’s dangerous to hike here in flood.  Weather Forecast Punakaiki Area

Weather Westport

It’s a mild climate due to the close location to the sea. Weather in NZ and especially on the West Coast is very changeable. You can experience 25 degrees one day and the next day heavy rainfall and much colder temps. The warmest months are November to March. If you camp consider the average low night temps of around 10°C. The average day temps are below 20°C but can reach up to 30°C in summer. Nights are pretty chilly from May to September. Rain is very common coming from the Tasman Sea on the West Coast on average each month more than 200 mm except February which is usually a little drier. Generally, spring is the wettest time of the year.

Where to Stay Nearby:
  • If you want to spoil yourselves close to the Pancake Rocks, this might be the best stay in the Punakaiki Forest Retreat. 
  • Another option are the beautiful Hydrangea Cottages within walking distance of the Pancake Rocks. Perfectly located to watch the sunset.

 

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Yosemite National Park! Mesmerizing and spectacular views! Read on for our complete season guide or scroll down for tips about the most breathtaking places: Half Dome, Lower Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point.

The best sweet spot months with mostly pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds are mid-May until early-June and late September until mid-October. July and August are ridiculously busy. However, if you can only visit in summer, we have great tips to avoid crowds (see below). Waterfalls are at their best in late May, and skiing the Badger Pass lasts through the end of March. Backpackers thrive into early October, while those who prefer to drive do best when all roads are likely to be open July through September. Take a look at our seasonal breakdown. We went to Yosemite ourselves many times, also analyzed thousands of reviews to help you determine the advantages of each season:


Please note: These are temperatures for lower elevations. It gets a lot cooler at higher elevations!


SPRING (April - May)

April's showers (and melting snowcaps) bring May's spectacular waterfalls.

Weather: Though it varies, temperatures are getting warmer. Average daytime highs hover around 70, though it is always possible to encounter a late winter snowstorm.

Accessible Areas: Lower elevation and good roads make Yosemite Valley and Wawona accessible all year long. It is difficult to predict the likelihood to enter Tioga and Glacier Point Roads due to residual snow. Crews begin clearing snow April 15, but work can last well into May. Weekends can be especially busy, be sure to arrive early to avoid unnecessary delays.

Highlights: Water is abundant in spring. Well-known rivers and waterfalls reach peak runoff in late May, and this is by far the most popular time to see them. Check out the booming rush of water at Ribbon Falls, which only flows through June. It is one of the tallest waterfalls in all of North America. Don't expect to be wowed by the wildflowers; it's still too early for the blooms, though you might catch a few poppies or redwood along the way.

Crowds: Light in April. It gets busier in May. Especially weekends are crowded in late spring, visit midweek, and get to the main hot spots first thing in the morning. Try to avoid the extremely congested Memorial Day weekend.

 

SUMMER (June, July, August, early September)

Sweet summer weather brings peak level crowds.

Weather: Ample sunshine. Average temps soar to nearly 90, but cool down significantly under the night sky.

Accessible Areas: Most of the park is accessible now, but it is still possible to discover your own private paradise. Venture outside of Yosemite Valley, and away from the crowds. Take in the stunning views in High Sierra where you will be met by little more than a cool mountain breeze.

Highlights: Waterfall flow is typically still at its peak in early June and often remains high by mid-June. Itbegins to slow in July due to warmer weather. Vernal, Nevada, and Bridalveil Falls run all year; however, their flow can be very low by late summer. Yosemite Falls may dry out completely by August. Check Yosemite Falls Webcam to see the current flow. Your draw in summer is the spectacular colors of the wildflowers. In the valley, the blooms burst in June. Follow the winding river in Tuolumne Meadows, and enjoy the sub-alpine flowers like gentium or shooting stars. Explore one of the many trails that begin in these meadows, including the route to the summit of Mount Lyell, the highest in the park.

Crowds: June is already busy, while July and August are extremely jammed. Popular spots will be crowded all season, and expect long lines at entrance points. Take a chance and hike a lesser known trail instead.

 

AUTUMN (early September, October,  November)

Crisp breeze and colorful trees, along with dwindling crowds make fall one of the best times to visit the park.

Weather: Varies. Average daytime temps are in the 50's, but it is not unusual to see drastic ranges. Snow and rain are also possible, especially at higher elevations. Yosemite Valley is your best bet for comfortable daytime weather; though expect it to turn chilly when the sun goes down.

Accessible Areas: Most areas in the park remain open through October, though this is fully dependent on the weather. Services begin to shut down in mid-September, and the park does not allow overnight parking after mid-October. In late fall, your best bet is Wawona and Yosemite Valley, but even there you may require tire chains.

Highlights: As the snow begins to fall, so does the water. Yosemite Falls has been dry all late summer and early autumn but resumes its flow quickly usally by November (after a little snowfall). From Wawona, your best bet is Chilnualna Falls. You will have to hike to it, but the way it twists and turns through the rocks makes it completely worth the effort. Fall colors peak around mid-October, though don't expect to see radiant hues throughout. Most trees are evergreen, but shades of yellows, orange, and even some purples can be found sprinkled among the trees.

Crowds: Warning. Early September (Labor Day Weekend) sees the highest crowds. After Labor Day it's less crowded but still busy. Even if you visit mid-September avoid weekends and try to get up early. Crowds start to thin out by late September. In October everything is much quieter. As long as the roads remain open, you are likely to have the place to yourself in late autumn.

 

WINTER (December, January, February, March)

If solitude is what you seek, winter will be a treat.

Weather: Cold. Snow and wind are a constant presence, though you might find a few sunny days in between storms. Temperatures in Yosemite Valley are more moderate, averages remain in the low 50's, though evening lows can dip below zero.

Accessible Areas: There are few trails visible enough to hike during winter, and once Tioga Road is closed vehicles are prohibited for your safety. Ski areas remain open, as the Badger Pass is plowed often. Both downhill and cross-country activities are popular here, and there are some great runs for snowboarders as well.

Highlights: Water is flowing again, thanks to the snow and rain, and it is possible to get some great winter shots of the falls. If you get to Yosemite Falls early enough, it is possible to see it frozen solid. If possible, consider visiting the Horsetail Fall Firefall. Only occurring in winter when the sun is at just the right angle, this natural beauty looks just like a cascading flow of fire. It is truly unforgettable. The peak time for the Firefall is usually from February 17-19. However, it can vary. The sweeping snowy vistas are magical in the winter, and the lack of crowds make it even better. Yosemite Valley is your best bet to find a route to hike, keep in mind the trails range in difficulty and distance, so plan accordingly.

Crowds: None. You are likely to encounter some crowds at the ski areas, but if your intent is just to visit the park, you may be lucky enough to never see another person.

 

How to Avoid the Crowds

Your best bet to avoid the crowds is to visit in spring, late autumn, or winter. If a summer trip cannot be avoided, follow these tips to get the most out of your visit.


Get up early: 
There is nothing more spectacular than a Yosemite sunrise, and if you can make yourself get up early, you will essentially have the place (almost) to yourself. Take advantage of the morning's first light, and your reward will be some phenomenal photos. Park rangers suggest starting before 9 a.m. Although not packed, very popular places can already get busier between 9 and 10 a.m. in the peak months. The earlier you arrive, the better.

Stay up late: 
If you are not an early riser, you might prefer the big sky at night. Under the light of the moon and millions of stars, you can't help but feel amazed at what nature has to offer. The park hosts free astronomy lessons, but to truly avoid the crowds, try to find a more remote spot instead. These night sky views are unforgettable. Crowds start to dissipate after 5 p.m.

Venture away from the main tourist sites: 
Sure, they are likely the reason you chose Yosemite, but the same is true for everyone else. Consider a visit to the High Sierra, where there are no crowds and expansive views. This makes a great location for a multi-day hike, or a home base for camping.

Step out of your comfort zone: 
Or your vehicle. Most tourists visit the park in their cars which can create traffic jams and on top of that, you only get a glimpse into what Yosemite has to offer. Park your car and take a hike instead. A little mountain fresh air is good for the soul, and the best part is, the views only get better as you go. Trails range in difficulty and distance, so be sure to consider your physical ability and time frame as you plan. Avoid the Mist Trail unless you arrive first thing in the morning, as it is one of the most popular, and does see a lot of crowd action as the day wears on.

Pack a cooler: 
Pull off somewhere special to enjoy a private picnic. You will thank yourself when you see the lines at the restaurants. Not only do you have the freedom to choose when and where you stop, you have full control of your food choices. Park dining options are great in a pinch, but tend to offer mediocre food, for pretty steep prices.


Yosemite Firefall (Winter / See Tips Above)


Firefall by Ken Xu, CC BY, cropped

 

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Weather

Sabah can be traveled all year around, but June to September can be hot. Climbing Mount Kinabalu is best during the dry season in March and April with a higher chance for clear views. Anyhow, rain can also occur at this time of the year. October to January is the North-East Monsoon that brings heavy and frequent rain. It is worst in November and December. Dry periods can occur, but the monsoon can spoil the whole trip.

Nowadays it's a very popular hike; early booking is essential minimum 6 months in advance! Climbing is limited to 135 people per day since the earthquake in 2015 where people and even children died. 

Top Tip

If you want to explore a less busy part of the mountain; at Panar Laban Rock Face on 3.300 m elevation starts the world highest via ferrata. It was opened in 2007 with different routes and difficulties. More information about activities.

 

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