Hawai`i Roads - CR 137

CR 137

CR 137 is known as the "red road", and there is still some original red pavement left, from the time when it was constructed using bunker oil as a binder instead of asphalt (it was just as thick and more readily available due to Pearl Harbor and other military installations). Red is the color of the iron in the lava soil and rocks that were used to pave the road, but there just isn't enough of it available to keep paving it or other roads, so a lot of 137 is now just another gray road. It also used to be one narrow lane, but it's been repaved and widened to the point that two vehicles can squeeze by without dropping off the pavement.

The remaining red stretch starts in the east, so since I drove westbound, I'll start off the page with it. An older lava flow sits to the left.

Although it's an old lava flow, there are still only a few ferns coming out of it, and the predominant plant life is moss. Given another hundred years, it will look like any Hawaiian forest. Looking to the north in the second photo, you see in the background a "kipuka" of trees, an island among the sea of lava.

Coming upon a bypassed old alignment, as the new (wider) road snakes through the forest just inland (mauka, which means the mountain side of the road; makai is the beach side). There appears to have been a structural failure of the lava rock under the EB side of the highway where it came closest to the ocean. I saw someone drive right onto it while I was taking photos, so as long as you don't mind a few-inch drop from the new road (i.e. you have a 4x4) you can still drive it.

Looking east at the other end of the alignment, then coming back to where I started as the new road flows back into the old.

Kama`ili Rd. is at milepost 15 of CR 137, which has the same shield as the state highway since numbers never duplicate. This isn't 15 miles from either end of 137, though, because the western few miles got covered by lava.

Past another short stretch of bypassed coastal highway, which also must have structural problems, and into a long tree tunnel. The highway is two nicely widened lanes when bypassing the old road, but then narrows down to one lane that gets used by both directions of traffic. The shoulders are not paved nearly well enough to be used for travel.

The Kalapana Lava Flow steams into the ocean in the background, and then suddenly CR 137 ends, having been taken over by the same lava that doomed HI 130 (see that page, linked below). Out here, the road wasn't rebuilt over the lava, so there is just miles of expansive rock in both directions if you walk toward the ocean from the new end of the road.

Turning from the stub end of CR 137 onto the beginning of Kalapana Road, which runs straight into HI 130 toward Pahoa (NB). Well, "ran", because now the connection is bent into a T to make HI 130 the main highway between the Kalapana Lava Flow and Hilo. In its original configuration, this intersection had HI 130/Chain of Craters Road coming in from the left (west), but now it's hard to call this Chain of Craters Rd. because it doesn't connect to the actual road in the Kilauea area.

To HI 130
More Big Island roads
Back to Hawai`i Roads
Back to Roads