Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

What: Massive park home to one of the world’s most active volcanoes
Where: 45 minutes south of Hilo

Experience some of nature’s most awe-inspiring wonders at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Located 45 miles southwest of Hilo, the park is home to two volcanoes including Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on earth. The chance to witness the primal process of creation and destruction makes it one of the most popular visitor attractions in Hawaii and a sacred place.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park encompasses 333,000 acres from the summit of Maunaloa to the sea. Discover 150 miles of hiking trails through volcanic craters, scalded deserts and rainforests, as well as a museum, petroglyphs, a walk-in lava tube and two active volcanoes: Maunaloa, which last erupted in 1984 and Kilauea which has been erupting since January 3, 1983. 

Kilauea is sometimes called "the world's only drive-in volcano.” This prolific volcano produces 250,000–650,000 cubic yards of lava per day—enough to resurface a 20-mile-long, two-lane road each day. As of January 1994, 491 acres of new land have been created on the island of Hawaii. Scientists are unsure how long the current eruption may last—it could go for another 100 years or stop tomorrow. Many locals say that Pele, the volcano goddess who lives here, is very unpredictable. The chance to watch Kilauea's blistering lava flows meet the sea is a sight not to be missed during your visit. 

The extraordinary natural diversity of the park was recognized in 1980 when it was named a World Biosphere Site by UNESCO and in 1987 when the park was honored as a World Heritage Site.

HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK HIGHLIGHTS

Kilauea Visitor Center 

Open daily: 7:45 a.m.–5 p.m.
Begin your visit at the Kilauea Visitor Center with an hourly film, shown from 9 a.m.–4 p.m., introducing the park. Ranger talks are offered and ranger-guided activities can be scheduled. Pick up maps, learn about the park's hikes and get the latest eruption updates here.

Crater Rim Drive 

Crater Rim Drive is the 10.6-mile drive that circles Kilauea Caldera. Driving around this loop will take you to the park's main attractions: the Kilauea overlook, Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, Halemaumau Crater, Devastation Trail, Kilauea Iki Crater Overlook and the Thurston Lava Tube.

Thomas A. Jaggar Museum 

Open daily: 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Thomas A. Jaggar pioneered the study of volcanology here at Kilauea. Here you can find geologic displays, maps and videos about the study of volcanoes. This is a great vantage point to watch the fiery glow of Halemaumau at night.

Halemaumau Crater 

Steam vents plume from this massive crater, known as the home of Pele, the volcano goddess. The glow of the crater at night is an amazing sight, and the Jaggar Museum offers a great vantage point. In 1967, this crater was filled with a lake of lava that eventually drained away, but the lava lake is now active once again. Great respect should be paid at this sacred site. Also worth noting is that higher elevation near the crater means that temperatures can drop fairly quickly. If you're coming from the beach in shorts and t-shirt, be sure to pack some warmer items like a light jacket while you're here. 

Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku) 

Walk through a 500-year old lava cave formed when an underground channel of molten lava drained from its cooled walls. A tropical rainforest awaits you at the end of the tube.

Puuoo Vent 

Currently Kilauea's lava activity isn't centered in its caldera (the large depression at the top of the volcano) but at the Puuoo vent in the East Rift Zone. To watch the underground lava flood tubes empty dramatically into the sea, head to the end of Chain of Craters Road.

Chain of Craters Road 

Ranger station open daily: 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Veering south of Crater Rim Drive is Chain of Craters Road. This 3,700-foot drive eventually ends where a lava flow has overtaken the road.

Volcano House 

The Volcano House hotel overlooking Halemaumau Crater has been operating since it was a grass shack in 1846. Mark Twain once stayed here on his visit to Hawaii. 

TIPS FOR YOUR VISIT

  • Be prepared, if you plan on going on a longer hike or camping trip. Bring food and water. Dress appropriately with shoes, long pants and a jacket. Bring binoculars and a flashlight at night. And don't forget your camera.
  • For your safety, please stay on marked routes, heed all warning signs, and stay out of restricted areas. There is a danger of harmful volcanic gases and unstable land in these areas.
  • Finally, allow plenty of time for your trip. To maximize your experience consider staying in accommodations on the east side of the island. Hilo is only 45 minutes away. The drive to and from Kona is about 2.5–3 hours each way.

For More Information

Visit nps.gov/havo or call (808) 985-6000

For daily Kilauea eruption updates: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/ or call (808) 967-7328
For a live view of Halemaumau Crater: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/cams/KIcam/
For Hawaii County Civil Defense updates: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts/ or call (808) 935-0031

Get More Info About Volcanic Eruptions And Where to See Them

Volcano Eruption Update