Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
What: Massive park home to one of the world’s most active volcanoes
Where: 45 minutes (30 miles) southwest of Hilo, Hwy. 11
2 hours (90 miles) southeast of Waikoloa, Hwy. 200
2-2.5 hours (95 miles) southeast of Kailua-Kona, Hwy. 11
Established in 1916, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park encompasses 335,259 acres or about 523 square miles (by comparison, the island of Oʻahu is 597 square miles). The park climbs from sea level to more than 13,000-feet, encompasses two volcanoes – Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes and Maunaloa, the world’s largest active subaerial volcano – and six of Earth’s climate zones along the way. Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is a place of contrasting environments and landscapes that satisfies single-day guests, sure, but truly rewards multiday and return visitors seeking deeper exploration of its rugged lava fields, rainforest flora and fauna, lava tubes and craters, coastline meetings of lava rock and ocean, Hawaiian cultural sites, ash-covered deserts, and even alpine tundra.
Everyone does this: See Halema‘uma‘u Crater after it doubled in size following seismic activity at Kīlauea’s summit in 2018 • Hike the once rainforest-covered Devastation Trail • Explore steamy Haʻakulamanu (Sulphur Banks) for a quick loop hike.
Not everyone does this, but should: Get your hands dirty and restore the ‘āina (land) by participating in Stewardship at the Summit voluntourism projects • Drive scenic Maunaloa Road to its 6,667-foot elevation lookout • See Pu‘uloa Petroglyph Field’s Hawaiian lava etchings • Hike in the park’s Kahuku Unit, located about an hour’s drive south of the park’s main entrance.
HAWAI‘I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK HIGHLIGHTS
The park is open 24 hours daily, year round. For the latest information (entrance fees, closures, events, etc.) at the park, make your first top the park website at www.nps.gov/havo.
Kīlauea Visitor Center
Open daily: 9:00 a.m.–5 p.m.
Begin your visit at the Kīlauea Visitor Center for a great introduction to the park, the latest information on trails, ranger-led activities, road consitions, and safety precautions.
Crater Rim Drive
One of two main roads in the park (the other is Chain of Craters Road). Bring shoes, raingear, hats, and bottled water. Drive carefully throughout the park – and keep an eye out for nēnē (Hawaiian goose). Cars are the leading cause of death for these endangered species; please don’t feed the nēnē either.
Suggested stops along Chain of Craters Road
Uēkahuna, Kīlauea Overlook, Wahine Kapu (Steaming Bluff), Haʻakulamanu (Sulfur Banks), Kīlauea Iki Overlook, Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube), Puʻupuaʻi Overlook, Keanakākoʻi Crater,
Chain of Craters Road
Presently, Chain of Craters Road is 18.8 miles to the end of the road. No food, water, or fuel is avaiable along this road. Vault-type toilets are available at Maunaulu parking area and at the end of the road.
Suggested stops along Chain of Craters Road
Luamanu Crater, Puhimau Crater, Pauahi Crater, Puʻuhuluhulu Cinder Cone, Mau Loa o Maunaulu, Kealakomo Overlook, Alanui Kahiko, Puʻuloa Petroglpyhs, Hōlei Sea Arch.
Halemaʻumaʻu Crater is a persistently active pit within Kīlauea’s summit caldera. It has a long history of lava lake-style eruptive events. For the most current eruption inforamtion, visit: https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/lava2.htm. Note: higher elevation near the crater means that temperatures can drop fairly quickly. Please bring a light jacket or sweater.
Volcano House – http://www.hawaiivolcanohouse.com
Nāmakanipaio and Kulanaokuaiki - https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/camp.htm
TIPS FOR YOUR VISIT
- 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.
- Stay on open trails and roads. Closed trails and roads are dangerous, do not enter.
- Stay away from cracks and sinkholes. Falls into cracks have seriously injured and killed people. Cracks have unstable edges, do not approach them.
- Rockfalls are unpredictable. Pay attention and keep away from all cliffs.
- Wear sturdy shoes and long pants, falling on lava rock is like falling on broken glass.
- Do not hike after dark. Even those who know the area must be cautious.
- Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is a wild place. The dramatic landscape of Kīlauea volcano is constantly being shaped by powerful and uncontrollable natural forces. Respect the dangers of this dynamic natural process and stay out of closed areas.