Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: If you’re looking for an adventure like no other, then Hawaii Volcanoes National Park should be on your must-visit list. This breathtaking national park is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa.
With its stunning natural beauty and awe-inspiring geological wonders, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a must-see destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
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Brief History of the Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was established in 1916, making it one of the oldest national parks in the United States. The park covers an area of over 500 square miles and is located on the Big Island of Hawaii.
It is home to Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the world’s largest shield volcano.
Over the years, the park has attracted millions of visitors from around the world who come to marvel at its natural wonders.
In 1980, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its outstanding natural value.
Things to Do
There are plenty of things to do in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, whether you’re an adventurous traveler or just looking for a scenic drive.
Here are some of the top activities to enjoy:
Explore the Crater Rim Drive #1
The Crater Rim Drive is an 11-mile scenic drive that takes you around the rim of Kilauea’s caldera, offering stunning views of the volcano’s steam vents, craters, and lava fields.
The drive starts at the Kilauea Visitor Center and takes about an hour to complete.
Along the way, you’ll see some of the park’s most iconic sights, including the Jaggar Museum and Overlook, which offers a stunning view of Kilauea’s active lava lake.
Hike the Trails #2
The park has over 150 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging backcountry treks.
Some popular hikes include the Kilauea Iki Trail, a four-mile hike through a volcanic crater that erupted in 1959, and the Devastation Trail, a short, paved trail that winds through the aftermath of the 1959 eruption.
The park offers a variety of guided hikes, including the Kilauea Iki Guided Hike, which explores the 1959 eruption, and the Halema’uma’u Crater Night Hike, which takes visitors to the edge of the active lava lake at night.
Visit the Jaggar Museum and Overlook #3
The Jaggar Museum features exhibits on the geology and history of the park, including displays on volcanic activity, earthquakes, and tsunamis.
The overlook offers a stunning view of Kilauea’s active lava lake.
The museum and overlook are located off the Crater Rim Drive and are open daily from 10 am to 8 pm.
Attend a Ranger-Led Program #4
The park rangers offer a variety of programs, including guided hikes, cultural demonstrations, and evening talks.
Some popular programs include the Kilauea Iki Guided Hike, which explores the 1959 eruption, and the Halema’uma’u Crater Night Hike, which takes visitors to the edge of the active lava lake at night.
The park also offers a variety of cultural programs, including hula performances and traditional Hawaiian music.
Take a Scenic Drive #5
In addition to the Crater Rim Drive, the park offers several other scenic drives, including the Chain of Craters Road, which winds down to the coast and offers stunning views of the lava fields and ocean.
This 18-mile scenic drive takes you through some of the park’s most breathtaking landscapes, including the Holei Sea Arch and the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs.
Explore the Volcano Art Center Gallery #6
Located in the park’s historic 1877 Volcano House hotel, the Volcano Art Center Gallery features works by local artists, including paintings, ceramics, and glass art.
The gallery is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm and admission is free.
Go on a Helicopter Tour #7
For a bird’s-eye view of the park’s spectacular landscapes, consider taking a helicopter tour.
Several companies offer tours that fly over Kilauea’s active lava flows, Mauna Loa’s vast summit, and the park’s stunning coastline.
This is an incredible way to experience the park’s natural beauty from a unique perspective.
While exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park can be an amazing experience, it’s important to take some precautions to stay safe.
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
- Stay on the Designated Trails: Venturing off the trail can be dangerous and may damage fragile ecosystems. Stay on the designated paths and follow all posted signs and warnings.
- Check the Weather: Hawaii’s weather can change rapidly, so it’s important to be prepared for sudden rain, wind, or fog. Bring appropriate clothing and gear for the weather conditions.
- Keep a Safe Distance from the Volcanoes: The volcanoes in the park can be unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Stay on the designated viewing areas and obey all posted warnings and closures.
- Be Mindful of Geothermal Hazards: The park is home to several geothermal areas, including steam vents and hot springs. These areas can be dangerous and emit toxic gases. Stay on the designated paths and avoid getting too close to these areas.
- Be Prepared for Emergencies: In case of an emergency, dial 911 or contact park rangers immediately. Be sure to carry a first-aid kit, plenty of water, and any necessary medications.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is during the cooler and drier months of April through October. During this time, the park’s flora is in full bloom, and the weather is pleasant for hiking and other outdoor activities.
Accommodations and Dining Options
There are several accommodations and dining options within and near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
The Volcano House offers rooms with stunning views of the volcano, while the Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant serves up delicious local cuisine.
There are also several campgrounds and vacation rentals available in the area.
If you’re looking to explore more of Hawaii’s natural beauty, there are several nearby attractions worth visiting. The Punalu’u Black Sand Beach is a unique beach made up of black sand, formed by the volcanic activity in the area. The beach is a great place to relax and enjoy the stunning views of the ocean.
Another nearby attraction is the Akaka Falls State Park, which features a 422-foot waterfall surrounded by lush tropical vegetation.
A short hike takes you to the falls, where you can take in the beauty of this natural wonder.
For those interested in history and culture, the Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is a must-visit. This park is home to a sacred site that was once a place of refuge for those who broke Hawaiian law. Visitors can explore the park’s historic structures and learn about Hawaiian culture and customs.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the awe-inspiring power of nature. With its stunning natural beauty, geological wonders, and range of activities to enjoy, it offers something for everyone.
Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a nature lover, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories. So, pack your bags and explore the wonders of this spectacular marvel of nature. Just remember to follow the safety tips, be respectful of the environment, and enjoy all that this breathtaking national park has to offer.