Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Trip to Parker Ranch

In the cattle ranching business for more than 160 years, Parker Ranch encompasses 130,000 acres on Hawai‘i's Big Island. Today, most of the ranch's prime grazing lands are located at higher elevations in North Kohala, where herds of Charolais/Angus/Hereford cattle, quarter horses and bulls roam the vast pasturelands. The Ranch owns more than 19,000 head of cattle pastured — from the foothills to the valleys of Waiemi, Waiki‘i, Makahalau, Paauhau and Kohala.

The Ranch was founded in 1847 by John Palmer Parker, who arrived on the Big Island from Massachusetts. After marrying the granddaughter of King Kamehameha I, Kipikane, he purchased their first two acres of land for $10. Six generations of the Parkers owned and operated the Ranch until the passing of Richard Palmer Parker in 1992. The Ranch is now owned by the Parker Ranch Foundation Trust.

John Palmer Parker
To give you an idea of its enormous size, the Ranch includes 850 miles of fencing, more than 300 paddocks, 145 water tanks, 650 water troughs and 175 miles of pipeline. Annual beef production of Parker Ranch's cow-calf operation totals more than 10 million pounds. Needless to say, Parker Ranch is the largest producer of grass-feed beef in the state of Hawai‘i. You can find grass-fed beef at the local grocery stores here on the Big Island, and served at many restaurants along the Kohala Coast and in Kailua-Kona.

If you are staying at Holualoa Inn, it's a short 35-minute drive to Waimea, where Parker Ranch is headquartered. Depending on the time of year, you might be able to catch a local rodeo at the Ranch, or tour some of the ranch's historic homes. Parker Ranch Shopping Center features plenty of Ranch souvenirs and memorabilia. The Paniolo Heritage Center at Pukalani Stables showcases the Paniolo Hall of Fame.

Innkeeper Holualoa Inn

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