Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, established in 1916, displays the results of 70 million years of volcanism, migration, and evolution -- processes that thrust a bare land from the sea and clothed it with complex and unique ecosystems and a distinct human culture. The park encompasses diverse environments that range from sea level to the summit of the earth's most massive volcano, Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet. Kilauea, the world's most active volcano, offers scientists insights on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and visitors views of dramatic volcanic landscapes.
Over half of the park is designated wilderness and provides unusual hiking and camping opportunities. In recognition of its outstanding natural values, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park has been honored as an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.
This is one of my favorite parks... and not just because
you can be hiking around on Lava Beds in the morning, and swimming in
the Pacific Ocean a couple hours later. The Volcano House Hotel is one
of the more
spectacular lodges found in a National Park. It sits right on the edge of the caldera, with great views.
It is fun to take a hike along one of the Lava Flows, but it is wise to carry lots of water since it is extremely hot on the black lava. Wear sturdy shoes because the lava can be extremely sharp and can slice through skin very easily. Also adhere to all signs that warn of lava, it can be very hot standing on top of a lava tube that is even a few feet under ground.
Basic Information for Hawaii Volcano National
Operating Hours, Seasons
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day all year; Kilauea Visitor Center is open daily from 7:45 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.; Jaggar Museum is open daily from 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
PLANE - Hilo is the closest airport to Volcanoes National Park. Kilo is located roughly a 3 hour drive away.
CAR - Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is located 96 miles
from Kailua-Kona driving southeast on HWY11 (2 to 2 1/2 hour drive), or
125 miles through Waimea and Hilo via highways 19 and 11 (2 1/2 hour drive).
The park is 30 miles from Hilo (45 minute drive). Vehicles may be rented
at the Hilo and Kona airports. Most major car rental companies are represented
at both airports.
Weather & Climate
The park has distinct climate zones that vary according to elevation. Visitors should be prepared for a wide range of weather conditions. Weather at the summit of Kilauea (4,000' elevation) fluctuates daily and can be rainy and chilly any time of the year. The coastal plain at the end of Chain of Craters Road is often hot, dry, and windy. Bring rain gear, light sweaters or jackets, sturdy shoes, hats, water bottles, sun glasses and high UV factor sunscreen.
The Visitor Center is accessible to wheelchairs.
Camping at Hawaii Volcano National Park
Namakani Paio Campground
Open All Year
Located off Highway 11, 31 1/2 miles out of Hilo at 4,000' elevation. It is a large, open grassy area with tall eucalyptus and ohi'a trees. This campground has restrooms, water, picnic tables,and barbecue pits. The large pavilion has picnic tables and a fire place (no firewood is available). Weather may be cool and damp year-round. Daytime temperature range: 60s to 70 degrees F. Nightime temperature range: high 30s to low 50 degrees F. We suggest that you have a tent with a good rainfly and bring warm clothing for the cool evenings
Open All Year
Located at 2,700' elevation and about 5 miles down the Hilina Pali Road. Kulanaokuaiki is a new campground with 3 sites available. 2 of these sites are wheelchair accessible. There are barbecue grills, a vault toilet, and picnic tables. There is NO WATER at this location.
Activities and More Information
at Hawaii Volcano National Park
Hiking at Hawaii Volcano National Park
The park is best discovered on foot. There are more than 150 miles of trails in the park. Some head off into our wilderness and are only suitable for the those in top physical condition and properly outfitted with winter mountaineering gear. Two trails are paved & accessible to wheel chairs and strollers. If possible, take the time to take an all day hike or a leisurely stroll through a rain forest.
Driving through Hawaii Volcano National Park
This 11 mile drive encircles Kilauea's summit caldera and craters, passes through rain forest and desert, and provides access to well marked scenic stops and short walks.
The best place to start the tour is at the Kilauea Visitor Center. Films shown throughout the day provide an introduction to the park and volcanology. Ask at the information desk about ranger-guided walks, hikes and other programs. Located nearby is the Volcano Art Center, housed in the historic original Volcano House built in 1877. It hosted many 19th century visitors to Kilauea and is now a gallery for local artists and craftsmen.
Before starting out in your car, you may want to take an easy one-mile (round trip) hike on the Earthquake Trail. Early in the morning on November 16, 1983 a magnitude 6.6 earthquake shook a section of the Crater Rim Drive into the caldera. The road has been relocated and the cracked roadway is now a gentle paved walking trail that is suitable for strollers and wheel chairs. The trail begins at the exit of the Volcano House parking lot and offers fine views of Mauna Loa and the caldera.
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