Saddle Road was built in 1942 by the Army to get from one side of the island to the other, and it's the only road that goes in between the 2 major volcanoes of the island: Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. They needed the road asap and built it FAST, leaving it for many decades a complete nightmare where only 4WD could get by. Over the last few years, a lot of work has been done and I have come to appreciate it for it's speed and California Highway feel.
It is one of the prettiest drives ever. At one point during the drive, you can see Mauna Kea to your right, the MASSIVE Mauna Loa to you left, Kohala straight ahead, and Hualalai off to the distance in the West.
My camera can in no way do this road justice, but... I tried.
This is the beginning of the drive as I'm leaving Hilo, this is to show how in just a few short miles while ascending to nearly 14,000 feet the temperature dramatically drops and I usually have to turn on the heat.
Saddle Road quickly leaves blue skies behind...
and becomes covered in grey, fog, vog, and rain.
This picture is obviously bad, but I think it shows it's at 64' F.
Lush greenery turns to old lava flows and harsher grey skies.
Just past Mauna Kea you begin to spot blue skies again.
As the mist clears, Mauna Loa, known as the Long Mountain, shows itself.
Mauna Kea to the right being left behind.
Just past these mountains is where Kohala, the extinct volcano, born 500,000 years ago lives.
If you look closely you can see the edge of the island.
Saddle Road is notorious for Wild Turkeys, pheasants, Ne Ne's, and Sheep. I ALWAYS see plenty of the turkey and pheasants, unfortunately Ne Ne are endangered and I have only seen a handful since I've been here.
Once you make it to the beautiful town of Waimea, the sky is clear enough to see the massive telescopes on top of Mauna Kea and maybe even snow.
And then this is just for our enjoyment: