Megan Shute for Only In Your State on Parker Ranch in Waimea on the Big Island. Sit back, relax and enjoy the beauty and culture of the island with our excellent guides.
Most people are surprised to learn that the Hawaiian Islands are home to countless incredible farms, ranches, and sprawling fields. It also might come as a surprise that the Aloha State is actually home to the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. In fact, this working cattle ranch, located on the Big Island, is also one of the country’s oldest ranches. Don’t believe me? Read on to learn more about this incredible ranch.
Welcome to Parker Ranch, an unexpected cattle ranch nestled on Hawaii Island sure to surprise and fascinate you.
Founded in 1847, Parker Ranch is one of the country’s oldest ranches, predating many mainland ranches in Texas and other southern states by more than 30 years.
Home of the Paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboy, Parker Ranch is the birthplace of ranching and the cowboy lifestyle in the Aloha State.
Currently covering approximately 130,000 acres in the center of the Big Island, Parker Ranch was once home to nearly 500,000 acres (nearly half of the island).
Parker Ranch is currently the ninth largest cow and calf operation in the United States, owning approximately 26,000 head of cattle, mostly Angus and Charolais breeds, with 17,000 grazed on the ranch, with the remaining found in pasture or feedlots on the mainland.
At one point, horses were almost as legendary as the cattle raised at Parker Ranch. Importing thoroughbreds from the mainland, the ranch not only produced working horses but polo ponies and racehorses as well. The Ranch even supplied many horses to the U.S. Cavalry and the U.S. Army, including General Patton’s personal horse. How cool is that?
Just to give you a sense of how truly massive this operation is, let’s put it in perspective. At Parker Ranch, you will find approximately 850 miles of fence, more than 300 paddocks, and 15 corrals. The water system consists of three large reservoirs, 145 water tanks, 175 miles of pipeline, three dams, and 650 water troughs.
Traveling to this area of the Big Island is altogether unlike anywhere else you’ll experience across the Hawaiian Islands. The rolling hills seem to continue for miles, and miles, and you will suddenly be transported to the American West, rather than a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
If you want to visit, Parker Ranch is open on weekdays for public tours of two historic homes — Puuopelu and Mana Hale — on the property, as well as a visitor’s center and gift shop in the nearby town of Waimea.
Parker Ranch is located at 66-1304 Mamalahoa Hwy, Waimea, HI, 96743, and is open on weekdays only from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit their website.