Witness The Wonders Of Nature In Action
The Volcano National Park is easily one of the most astonishing and geological interesting parks in the United States. In fact, the park is the home to two major, active volcanoes; giving visitors the change to witness the wonders of nature in action.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Location
The park is located 30 miles southwest of Hilo.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was founded in 1916 and encompasses 333,000 acres from the summit of Maunaloa to the ocean.
The main allure of the park is two active volcanoes, Maunaloa and Kilauea. Maunaloa last erupted in 1984 and Kilauea has been erupting since 1983. Dubbed “the world’s only drive-in volcano,” Kilauea produces an astonishing 250 million cubic yards of blistering lava per day, creating and destroying the land continuously, rivaling many landforms across the world.
Without a doubt, the surreal thrill of watching the actual landscape change before your eyes is like no other.
There are several helicopter tours offering thrilling views of live volcano action from the sky:
What better way to experience ruptures of lava than from 5,000 ft?
The area encompasses about 150 miles of hiking trails that will carry through rugged volcanic craters, dry deserts and tropical rain-forests. Hiking the park will likely be unlike anything you have experienced. There are several tour operators that offer hiking adventures, helicopter tours, etc.
Due to its astonishing natural diversity, the park was named a World Biosphere site by UNESCO in 1980. Seven years later, it was again honored as a World Heritage site.
Kilauea Visitor Center: The visitors’ center provides a useful introduction to the park, both by way of explanations by rangers as well as short videos. You’ll learn about the parks history, its hiking trails etc. You can also schedule ranger-guided tours and other activities. The center is open daily: 7:45 am to 5 p.m.
Crater Rim Drive: If you’re not up for the hiking trails, then you can drive around the park. Crater Rim Drive is the 10.6-mile drive that circles Kilauea Caldera. The drive will get you to several of the park’s main attractions.
Chain of Craters Road: To the south of Crater Rim Drive is the Chain of Craters Road, a journey that will take you on an exceptionally scenic drive, all the way to the point where a lava flow literally overtakes and blocks the road.
The Ranger station here is open daily: 10:00 am to 9 pm. Please keep in mind that there’s no food, water, or fuel is available along the Chain of Craters Road.
Thomas A. Jaggar Museum: The museum is named for Thomas A. Jaggar, a scholar known for his research into the volcanoes at Kilauea. The museum hosts volcano related artifacts and geologic displays showing maps and videos about the study of volcanoes. The museum is Open daily: 8:30 am to 5 pm.
Halemaumau Crater: A sacred place for indigenous Hawaiians, the Halemaumau Crater is known as the home of Pele, the volcano goddess.
The crater was once quite active around the 1960’s, and was temporarily a scary pool of lava that eventually drained away.
The Volcano House: Volcano house is a small hotel overlooking Halemaumau Crater. You can stay here or some place in Hilo which is about 45 minutes away.
Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku): The Thurston Lava Tube is a 500-year old lava cave formed from a channel of molten lava. At the end of the hollow chamber, you’ll find a beautiful tropical rainforest. It’s such a unique and exciting landform that never ceases to amaze visitors.
Flowing lava forms strange and exciting land and underground features. One such formation is the Thurston Lava Tube. The massive, hollow chamber leads to a beautiful tropical rainforest. Imagine walking on the remnants of molten lava then into an oasis of tropical plants and native birds.
Puuloa Petroglyphs: The Puuloa Petroglyphs is the largest petroglyph field in Hawaii. Petroglyphs are lava rock carvings etched into stone many centuries ago by Native Hawaiians. This includes more than 23,000 mysterious images of human forms, animals, canoes, etc.
Although the definitive meanings of the petroglyphs are unknown, historians generally agree that the drawings may be records significant events in the lives of early Hawaiians.
Puu Oo Vent: The most active crater of the Kilauea volcano is not the one at its peak, like most volcanoes.
Instead, the Puu Oo vent in the East Rift Zone fills underground tubes of lava that dramatically plunge into the ocean.
Crater-floor eruptions: Visitors are allowed to watch the astonishing spectacle from the Chain of Craters Road or the Kalapana viewing site. Of course, you should ensure that you follow your guide’s instructions and not venture too close to the vent.
You should bring your own food and water since there are no such facilities at the park.
How to Dress
The terrain is rugged and the conditions are a bit harsh, especially close to the erupting vents. As such, you should dress appropriately with sturdy, toe covered, thick-sole shoes as well as long, thick pants and a jacket. Dress for protection and safety. Bring your binoculars as well.
Remember, the park sits on active volcanoes with unstable land in some areas and dangerous gases oozing out of certain sections. It is critically important that you pay close adherence to the park’s rules and regulations.
You should only tour the ground under supervision and adhere to your guide’s instructions. Ina addition, stay on marked routes, heed all warring signs and stay clear of restricted areas.