Parker Ranch, Big Island

Parker Ranch is an institution on the Big Island. Karoll took us out to ride a PART of the ranch. Touted at one time as the largest privately owned ranch in the United States, Parker Ranch is huge.

The distances here can be deceiving too. Out in the distance, I spotted a cinder cone in front of Mauna Kea, the largest mountain in the world if you measure from its base (which is underwater) to the summit. I asked Karoll how long it would take to ride there. She said that though it looked pretty close, it would take a couple of hours. Once you start riding, you understand that things may be farther than they seem.

Parker Ranch was founded in 1847 by John Palmer Parker. Parker was called on to help King Kamehameha solve the problem of the wild herds of cattle and he did. Parker eventually formed a cattle empire. The ranch is still huge at 150,000 acres.

Karoll told us about the past and present prestige associated with being a Parker Ranch cowboy. In the old days, cowboys were put through many tests before they could work at the ranch. These tests continue today, but are nowhere near as treacherous as they once were.

The weather in Waimea can change pretty quickly. Our sunny skies clouded over, as we trotted through the grasslands and it began to rain. We actually do film in the rain sometimes, but decided to forgo this today and instead, go with Karoll and Mystery, who also leads rides at Parker, out to lunch. Later in the afternoon, Karoll and I would tour two of the old Parker residences, learning more about the history of the Parker family and seeing some unique European art on the Big Island.

Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations, including the Hawaii’s Big Island equestrian vacation, at

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