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You Might Want to Break the Law to See These 15 Stunning Photos of Hawaii’s Staircase to Heaven in Person

#1 These are the famous Haiku Stairs in Hawaii.

Flickr User Jon

Flickr User Jon

They’re also known to some as the “Stairway to Heaven” or the “Haiku Ladder.”

#2 You can find them on the island of Oahu, the third largest island in the Hawaiian chain.

Flickr User Johannes Andersson

Flickr User Johannes Andersson

They run along the Ko’olau mountain range, and they reach an altitude of 2,800 feet!

#3 The official count on this staircase is a whopping 3,922 steps!

Flickr User Mario Vecchi

Flickr User Mario Vecchi

You might ask yourself why anyone in their right mind would want to take a daunting climb like that! And the only response we have for that is… Have you seen these incredible views!?

#4 The breathtaking, panoramic vistas that you’ll see along this staircase are absolutely incredible!

Flickr User Pritt Siimon

Flickr User Pritt Siimon

But, there’s a big catch…

#5 It’s actually illegal to climb the staircase!

travelzone.clanweb.eu

travelzone.clanweb.eu

The staircase is officially closed to the public for safety reasons.

#6 It’s been around since 1942, so it isn’t exactly in pristine condition in some places.

Flickr User Shawn Clover

Flickr User Shawn Clover

The U.S. Navy needed this staircase to reach the top secret facility they were building. Since they wanted to be able to send radio signals to ships all throughout the Pacific, they needed the radio antennas for their facility to be not only very powerful, but also very high. The solution was to string them across the ridges of the Haiku Valley!

#7 The staircase started off as a basic wooden ladder.

amazingbeautifulworld.net

amazingbeautifulworld.net

The wooden ladder was replaced with a wooden staircase, and, not long later, a cable car was installed. As you can imagine, once the cable car was put in, it was rare to find anyone who would prefer to make the arduous trek up the stairs rather than simply ride the cable car.

#8 In the 1950’s, the naval base was decommissioned. 

Flickr User Shawn Clover

Flickr User Shawn Clover

Instead, the Unites States Coast Guard used the site as an Omega Navigation System station.

#9 Also in the 1950’s, many of the wooden steps were replaced with metal steps and ramps.

41.media.tumblr.com

41.media.tumblr.com

Though this made the staircase seem less rickety, by 1987 it was still closed to the public.

#10 Of course, there are plenty of no trespassing signs posted…

Flickr User Johannes Andersson

Flickr User Johannes Andersson

Some sources even report that a guard monitors the base of the staircase.

#11 This doesn’t stop many determined hikers, though.

Flickr User PATHETIQUE

Flickr User PATHETIQUE

Despite the obvious risks, many people somehow manage to make it onto the staircase! You can even find videos of the daring climbs online.

#12 Though the city spent $875,000 dollars to repair the stairs in 2003, they remain officially closed.

Flickr User Priitt Siimon

Flickr User Priitt Siimon

Honolulu city and county officials are reluctant to reopen the staircase because of obvious liability concerns.

#13 Since a powerful storm shook the island over Valentine’s Day weekend in 2015, storm damage has reportedly damaged the staircase beyond use.

tentree.com

tentree.com

Five hikers were stranded during this storm after strong winds twisted the metal railing of the staircase. As a result, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply declared that the staircase would be either torn down, or handed over to another agency.

#14 Nonprofit organization Friends of Haiku Stairs proposed a plan to save the staircase by opening it for tourism and funding maintenance through admission fees.

media1.trover.com

media1.trover.com

They’ve suggested charging out-of-state visitors as much as $100 to make the climb, but insist that people would be willing to pay the price if they know that their money is going towards keeping the staircase in good condition. They have also pointed out that hikers who risk climbing the staircase illegally risk a much larger fine (up to $600!) and possible jail time if they’re caught.

#15 Estimates indicate that about 2,000 people each year attempt to climb the staircase illegally!

hawaiipictureoftheday.com

hawaiipictureoftheday.com

If there’s anywhere in the world that has such tempting beauty it can turn people criminal, it’s Hawaii!

So, what do you think? Are these jaw-dropping views worth the risk? Or are these hikers out of their minds? Maybe you’ve even been on this staircase before! (We promise we won’t tell a soul!) Weigh in in the comments below!

Cheyenne Reed

Cheyenne Reed was born and raised in Ohio. She recently relocated to rural Wyoming to try out working at an exclusive guest ranch. She graduated from Kent State University with an English degree, and most enjoys writing about travel. If she has free time, you may run into her anywhere, because she is always itching to explore new places. Her personal motto is, "Any day can be an adventure if you make it one!"

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