Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Evidence of Hawaii’s volcanic past—and present—is visible throughout the islands that make up our 50th state. But nowhere is Hawaii's legacy of fire more apparent than at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, located on the southern edge of the Big Island. In and near the park, lava flows from the Kilauea volcano enter the Pacific Ocean where the lava hardens to black volcanic rock that adds to Hawaii's acreage with every passing year.

Elsewhere in the park, it's possible to view ancient petroglyphs, hike across the floor of a dormant crater, view steam vents, and take a stroll through a primeval rain forest to an equally ancient lava tube. Wildlife are fairly abundant here, including some endangered endemic species like the Hawaii honeycreeper and the Hawaiian goose (nene).

The park is easily viewed by car. The Crater Rim Drive takes visitors around the dormant crater, with plenty of places to park and walk around, and the Chain of Craters Road takes visitors down the volcano to the ocean and the hike to the lava flows. To really get a feel for this dynamic and fascinating landscape, you'll definitely want to spend some time outside of the car, and there are a number of trails to suit anyone from the casual day-tripper to the dedicated hiker.

—Laura Connors, NPCA

If You Go 

Parts of the park are considered rain forest. It does rain fairly frequently there, so you’ll want to have a lightweight raincoat or umbrella.

Some areas, particularly around the Crater Rim Drive, emit noxious fumes (this is an active volcanic area), so pay attention to the signs, particularly if you have any respiratory difficulties.

It is usually possible to hike from the end of Chain of Craters Road to a point where you can see the lava flowing into the ocean. This several-mile hike, which goes over jagged volcanic rock, varies in length depending on the site of the lava flow, so make sure to have very sturdy shoes. Also, if you plan to either hike out (or stay out until) dark—which is the best time to view the lava flows—make sure to bring a flashlight. There is no artificial lighting on the Chain of Craters Road or the hike to the lava views, and the nights are very dark!

havo.jpg

Threats

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has among the highest number (54) of threatened and endangered plants and animals in the National Park System, largely due to non-native species, which the National Park Service is working aggressively to eradicate. But because of a lack of funding, the park can only actively monitor and protect four (out of 54) species that it identifies as flagship species: the hawksbill turtle, Hawaiian petrel, Hawaiian goose, and Mauna Loa silversword plant.

Air pollution is among the most serious threats to national parks. The National Park Service has established the NPS air quality webcam network to show “live” digital images of more than a dozen parks. Click here to see current air conditions at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Trips

Exploring Hawaii's National Parks

Throughout the exciting nine-day itinerary, you will have a chance to meet the friendly people of Hawaii, witness the natural beauty of four Hawaiian Islands, and explore multiple historical sites. This departure is now full but a wait list is available. Interest in 2015 departure? Email travel@npca.org

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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Roe07

May 20, 2013

Love it!!!!!

bobby

April 5, 2013

this has help alot i was doing a project on this and now i got an a

banana

January 23, 2013

i had a social studies project about this park and this really helped

Shorty

January 31, 2012

This website is helpful!!!! for science

Hula Girl

November 10, 2011

It's not everyday in your life when you can watch an active volcano. We saw it spewing lava at night by boat, which is radical. Walking through a lava tube situated in a rain forest was too cool. You gotta go and support our parks! It's a trip of a lifetime.

Pattysul

November 10, 2011

Unlike any place on earth; rain forest, caves, deep, dark lava tubes, miles of black lava as far as the eye can see, stark silence, active volcano, rare wildlife, foreign landscape, steaming craters, strange rain one minute and then sun the next...WOW.

T. Waz

November 10, 2011

During a recent month's stay on The Big Island I visited this park twice, mainly to experience the Kilauea Caldera. Though its immensity is astonishing!--almost unfathomable in that it was once a lake of molten rock!--there is much more! I encountered a jungle-obscured lava tube created by boiling streams traversing previous flows' interstices, cooled at the surface to insulate the sizzling tributary below; though cold and dank now, the furnace it must have been may easily be imagined! My venture brought me through desolate landscape to a cinder cone of enormous height, to stop and take note of a singular silence that actually speaks! I drove the road that ends along the coast, descending the 4000 feet in elevation from a sultry rainforest through miles of lifeless lava formed not so long-ago that yet offers a dramatic glimpse into the planet's birth, until my thoroughfare became consumed by a now hardened unrelenting surge, and came a bit nearer to understanding that our Earth's crust is not quiescent but constantly evolving, efficiently reusing its resources to create itself anew! This place is too impressive to pass by!

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