The island of Kauai in Hawaii is full of locations from the original Jurassic Park movie that you can still explore today. Two of these iconic sites include the Jurassic Park Gates and T-Rex Paddock.
However, accessing these locations is not for everyone and can be quite challenging under certain conditions.
But in this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about getting to these sites including showing you a map with helpful way points and plenty of photos.
Table of Contents
What are the Jurassic Park Gates and T-Rex Paddock?
The Jurassic Park Gates and T-Rex Paddock are two filming locations from the classic 1993 film Jurassic Park that you can still visit today.
There are two poles that supposedly mark the site where the Jurassic Park gates were located and there is a clearing by a river where the T-Rex Paddock was filmed. To see both of these locations it requires a 10 mile round-trip journey by foot or off-road vehicle.
Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!
Where are the Jurassic Park Gates and T-Rex Paddock?
The Jurassic Park gates and T-Rex Paddock are located in the Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve — a remote area near Wailua in Kauai, Hawaii.
You’ll need to venture approximately 5 miles into the jungle on an off-road vehicle (or hike on foot) to access both the Jurassic Park gates and the site of the T-Rex Paddock.
The off-road journey begins near the Keahua Arboretum and you’ll know you’ve arrived when you cross this colorful little bridge.
Side note: the Keahua Arboretum is a really cool spot to check out the rainbow eucalyptus trees which you can see below. I highly recommend (it’s free).
Getting to the Jurassic Park Gates (hiking and off-roading)
You’ll need to choose if you want to off-road or hike (or a combination of the two) to get to the gates/paddock.
We are avid hikers and so I initially wanted to hike this but due to time constraints we had to switch to off roading. And honestly, I think that is the best call.
From a hiking perspective, the trail did not look super interesting (by Hawaii standards) and there is something that just felt so right about taking a Jeep through this jungle terrain.
It took us about one hour and 45 minutes to complete the entire drive out and back. My husband did all of the driving and while he is not off-roading every week he is a very solid 4×4 driver.
If you don’t have any experience driving off road, this path is doable but you might easily get freaked out by water crossings and a few of the muddy/bumpy sections.
We saw one Jeep simply park before one of the water crossings, presumably because they did not want to risk it.
Also, I would advise you to only do this with a four-wheel-drive vehicle although there are reports of people making it with two wheel drive.
Note: If you have a rental car, you may be personally liable for damage when off-roading so keep that in mind.
To make things easy for yourself, I would recommend downloading the AllTrails app and then using my navigation map with way points which you can see below.
It will tell you where all of the major sites are and also where you will face obstacles along the way such as muddy areas and water crossings.
Note: I did get a little bit of service while we were out there but for the most part it was a pretty weak signal.
Beginning the drive or hike
When you arrive at the Keahua Arboretum, you may see a sign that says the road beyond is “temporally closed.”
This may bum you out to a major degree but don’t lose hope!
This sign was up when we visited but we proceeded anyway because I believe that sign only applies when the yellow gate is closed, which is your first real obstacle.
(The gate is located just a little bit past the sign on the dirt road.)
Sometimes it’s closed for whatever reason (weather?) and if that’s the case, your only option would be to hike in (assuming that is okay).
For that reason, you might want to prioritize this trip towards the beginning of your time in Kauai. That will give you more time to change your date if you need to.
About half a mile into the drive you’ll come across a bridge crossing the creek.
Take a look at the photo below and it will give you a good indication of what safe water levels look like at this point.
If water is flowing over this bridge, I’d be very careful about the water crossings coming up as they may not be be passable.
Your next obstacle comes about one mile in.
It’s a water crossing that could be impassable after heavy rains.
Remember, this is near Waiʻaleʻale — literally one of the wettest places in the world.
If you’re not experienced with monsoon seasons or flash floods, remember that just because a stream is passable on your way in, that does not mean it will be passable on your way out.
It is gonna take you a good amount of time from this point to hike or drive to the gates and back and it’s very possible that if a storm moved in you would not be able to get back out until the water levels go down.
So just use extreme caution when dealing with weather systems on this little expedition.
I got out and walked across so you can see how deep the water levels were on a good day for a 6’1″ human. (The picture below is facing the direction you’ll see when coming back.)
If you’re hiking you’ll need to remove your shoes or possibly just wear water shoes.
The cold water will probably be clear enough for you to see where you’re stepping which helps but the crossing is filled with large, smooth river rocks which can be tricky to cross. I almost slipped a few times crossing without my trekking pole.
After that crossing you can relax a little bit and enjoy the green scenery but you do have another obstacle coming soon: a large puddle.
This one can be tricky because the water is not clear and it’s harder to tell how deep the hole is.
I got out of the Jeep and poked around this murky and slightly oily water with a trekking pole for hidden underwater potholes.
At that point, I was pretty much mentally prepared to step into a hole and end up waist deep in this gross water but luckily that didn’t happen.
While the water is kinda nasty, there was this little spot with a bunch of lily pads that I thought was mildly interesting.
Anyway, you can see how deep this section got based on the photos below.
It was deep but not that bad.
After this crossing all of your major obstacles are done.
You’ll then come across a fork and make sure you head the correct way (which is to the left).
If you’re using GPS or have Alltrails and have downloaded my route above there is no reason why you should get lost or miss a turn.
It’s actually pretty darn easy to follow.
There will be a few bumpy areas to deal with and it’s these little sections that could be a problem for people with low clearance.
Be ready to take your time on a couple of spots. If you start moving forward and aren’t sure about your route just reverse back and then line it up again.
At around 3.5 miles in, there is another gate but it doesn’t look like this rusted gate has been used in a very long time so I would not worry about it being closed.
Right at around four miles in you’ll arrive at the famous Jurassic Park gates!
Now here is the controversy, which you may or may not have heard about.
Some say the two poles are actually about 200 to 300 feet short from the original Jurassic Park movie entrance gates.
The main argument I have seen is that the road is different from what appeared in the movie.
I don’t know about that though because you would assume production altered the ground based on the fact that they also laid down a track on there.
There’s also the fact that 30 years have gone by and the road could’ve been altered dramatically by natural forces or by man.
People who believe these are the actual Jurassic Park gates question why these poles would be placed here if they weren’t from the original movie site.
Perhaps, years ago some people built them in a slightly misguided attempt to mark the location of the gates?
I tried to look at the backdrop from the Jurassic Park movie to see if I could line up any of the mountains, but it was nearly impossible to do using the scene with the gates closed due to the low-lying clouds.
But there is one shot where you can see beyond the gates and it reveals more details like a waterfall in the background and a specific tree behind the gate.
It also looks like there is a slight bend in the road towards the right which would line up with some of the photos below.
(I believe the palms were placed on site by production.)
Based on all of that, I believe the gates could very well have been located closer to the bend than the two poles currently are.
Assuming the gates are farther down, you can simply check out that view once you pass the poles.
Here’s what that view looks like:
Regardless of where exactly the gates were, if you drive along or hike along this path you have journeyed through the original Jurassic Park entrance gates which is a really cool feeling and honestly kind of a bucket-list adventure.
Once you have enjoyed your time at the Jurassic Park gates, you have the choice to keep going to the site of where the T-Rex Paddock was shot.
This is where the daytime shots were taken as the Ford Explorer drove past the paddock (all of the night shots when s*** got crazy were done in studio).
The T-Rex Paddock is about a mile farther down the road and I highly recommend that you consider going to that spot because unlike the Jurassic Park gate, we know exactly where that location was filmed.
Beware that the road does get a little rougher once you pass the gates. We definitely had to deal with more muddy spots and more puddles in that section.
While there were a couple of sections that were slightly tricky, everything was still very manageable in the Jeep.
It seemed like there was a lot of gravel or rocks at the bottom of some of these puddles which made it easier for the Jeep to get through.
Still, try to use caution when venturing into the puddles because you may not be able to judge if you are dealing with rocks or mud.
Once you get past about three different sections of bumpy road/puddles, you’ll be very close to the T-Rex Paddock, which was about 4.8 miles from the start of the trail.
You’ll know that you arrived when you see a clearing which may already be where a couple of vehicles are parked.
If you take a look at the scene still from the movie, you can instantly make out the three humps in the background that tower behind the T-Rex Paddock. It’s one of the easier shots to line up.
(In the image below, the peak on the left is not visible in Jurassic Park because of the heavy clouds.)
It’s a really cool spot for Jurassic Park fans.
The area behind the paddock has a stream running through it which is the North Fork of the Wailua River and actually an incredibly scenic spot.
If you have some snacks with you this would be a great opportunity to relax and enjoy a lite lunch by the flowing water.
The spot is actually near the beginning of the trail to what is known as the Waialeale Blue Hole Falls Trail.
It’s a difficult trail that will require you to get wet and navigate river crossings but the pay off is that you end up at the Weeping Wall with stunning views of all the waterfalls.
If you can start early in the morning and dedicate an entire day, this could be quite the experience.
After that, you need to head out exactly the way you came.
We did not find going downhill to be any more difficult than going uphill and with the added confidence of knowing that we could make it through the water crossings, it was actually a pretty enjoyable and stress-free ride.
I will say that some portions of the road are too narrow to allow someone else to pass.
In several areas it does widen up so that vehicles could pass each other but in some situations you might find yourself in a tight spot.
Luckily, it doesn’t seem like there are a ton of off-roaders that use this path (at least not when we visited).
This was one of my favorite experiences while in Hawaii. It’s incredibly fun to head deep in to the jungle and while hiking this would be a fun experience, there’s just something about taking a Jeep through this area that feels more fitting for a true Jurassic Park experience.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.