Discover Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Located in Hawaii and encompassing two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a living laboratory of volcanic phenomena. Here, visitors can witness the mesmerizing spectacle of molten lava flowing into the sea, shaping new landforms with each eruption. The park’s diverse landscapes range from lush rainforests to barren expanses of hardened lava fields, creating a striking contrast that captivates adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Beyond its geological wonders, the park boasts a rich cultural heritage, with ancient Hawaiian sacred sites and petroglyphs scattered throughout its expanse. Visitors can delve into the traditions and legends of the native Hawaiian people, gaining a deeper appreciation for the spiritual significance of this awe-inspiring landscape.

Whether you’re embarking on a challenging hike along rugged trails, marveling at the glow of active lava flows, or simply soaking in the serenity of the natural surroundings, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park promises an unforgettable experience.

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Top 3 Facts About Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

01

Dynamic Landscapes

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park covers an area of approximately 323,431 acres (1,308.88 km²), showcasing a diverse range of landscapes, including lush rainforests, barren lava fields, and volcanic craters.

02

Active Volcanoes

The park is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Kīlauea has been erupting continuously since 1983, making it one of the longest-recorded eruptions in history. Mauna Loa, on the other hand, is one of the largest volcanoes on Earth and has erupted over 30 times since its first documented eruption in 1843.

03

Lava Flows

Visitors to the park can witness the mesmerizing sight of molten lava flowing from the volcanoes into the ocean, creating new land formations. The ongoing eruption activity provides a unique opportunity to observe the dynamic process of volcanic activity shaping the landscape in real time.

Camping and transportation in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Getting to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is relatively straightforward, whether you’re traveling from within Hawaii or from afar:

  • From Hilo: If you’re arriving on the Big Island via Hilo, the nearest major city, you can drive to the park in about 45 minutes to an hour. Simply take Highway 11 (also known as Hawaii Belt Road) southwest from Hilo, and follow the signs directing you to the park entrance.
  • From Kailua-Kona: If you’re staying on the western side of the island near Kailua-Kona, the drive to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will take around 2 to 2.5 hours. Take Highway 11 south from Kailua-Kona, passing through the towns of Captain Cook and Naalehu before reaching the park entrance.
  • By Air: If you’re visiting from another Hawaiian island, you can also fly into Hilo International Airport or Kona International Airport. From there, you can rent a car and drive to the park as described above.

Places to Stay Near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

There are several options for accommodation and camping near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, catering to various preferences and budgets:

  • Volcano House: Located within the park, Volcano House is the only hotel situated on the rim of Kīlauea Caldera. It offers a range of accommodations, including historic rooms with volcano views and modern guest rooms. The hotel also features a restaurant, lounge, and gift shop.
  • Kīlauea Military Camp (KMC): This lodging option is available to active duty military, retirees, National Guard, DoD civilians, and sponsored guests. KMC offers cabins, cottages, and lodge rooms with various amenities. Reservations are required and can be made through the KMC website.
  • Campgrounds: The park offers two main campgrounds: Namakanipaio Campground and Kulanaokuaiki Campground. Namakanipaio is located near the park entrance and offers tent and RV camping with basic facilities such as restrooms and picnic tables. Kulanaokuaiki Campground is a more primitive option, accessible via a hike and offering a true wilderness camping experience.
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Best Time to Go to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Summer

Summer

Summer, from June to August, is the peak tourist season in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The weather is warm and sunny, with temperatures averaging in the high 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (25-28°C). This season is perfect for exploring the park’s diverse landscapes and outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, and scenic drives. However, visitors should be prepared for larger crowds and increased competition for accommodations and parking. Despite the higher visitor numbers, summer offers long daylight hours, providing ample time to experience all the park has to offer, including stunning sunsets over the volcanic landscape.

Winter

Winter

Winter is considered the off-peak season in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. While the weather may be slightly cooler, with temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to low 70s Fahrenheit (18-23°C), the park remains accessible and enjoyable for visitors. Winter brings occasional rain showers, particularly in the evenings and at higher elevations, but it also offers opportunities to witness dramatic cloud formations and rainbows over the volcanic landscape. With fewer crowds and more solitude, winter is an excellent time for those seeking a quieter and more contemplative park experience, whether it’s hiking through mist-shrouded forests or marveling at the glow of lava flows under the starlit sky.

Spring

Spring

Springtime is an ideal season to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. During this period, the weather is typically mild and pleasant, with comfortable temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to low 80s Fahrenheit (18-27°C). The park’s lush rainforests come alive with vibrant foliage and blooming flowers, offering picturesque hiking and sightseeing opportunities. Spring also marks the end of the rainy season, resulting in clearer skies and excellent visibility for observing volcanic activity and scenic vistas. Additionally, wildlife activity increases during this time, making it an excellent season for birdwatching and wildlife spotting.

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Must-See Attractions

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Jaggar Museum and Halema’uma’u Crater Overlook

Visit the Jaggar Museum to discover the science behind volcanic activity and monitoring. From the museum’s overlook, you can witness the mesmerizing glow of Halema’uma’u Crater, a dynamic vent within Kīlauea Caldera.

Chain of Craters Road

Take a scenic drive along Chain of Craters Road, which winds its way from the summit of Kīlauea to the coast. Along the way, you’ll encounter breathtaking vistas, ancient lava flows, and diverse ecosystems, culminating in views of the rugged coastline and active lava entry points.

Mauna Loa

If you’re up for a challenging adventure, consider hiking to the summit of Mauna Loa, one of the world’s largest shield volcanoes. The trail to the summit offers stunning views and a chance to experience the diverse ecosystems of the park.

Helpful Tips: Making the Most of Your Adventure to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Plan Ahead

Check Current Conditions

Before you go, check the park’s website or contact the visitor center for updates on volcanic activity, road closures, and trail conditions. Conditions within the park can change rapidly, so it’s essential to stay informed to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.

Pack Appropriately

Pack Essentials

Be sure to pack essentials such as water, snacks, sunscreen, a hat, sturdy walking shoes, and layers of clothing. Weather conditions can vary widely within the park, so it’s essential to be prepared for changes in temperature, wind, and precipitation.

Respect Wildlife

Respect Wildlife and Environment

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to a diverse array of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth. Help protect the park’s fragile ecosystems by staying on designated trails, not disturbing wildlife, and adhering to Leave No Trace principles.

Stay Informed

Stay Safe Around Volcanic Features

Exercise caution when exploring volcanic features such as lava flows, steam vents, and crater rims. Stay behind safety barriers and follow posted signs and warnings. Volcanic terrain can be unstable and hazardous, so it’s essential to prioritize safety at all times.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Yes, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is generally safe to visit. However, visitors should be aware of potential hazards such as volcanic gases, lava flows, and unstable terrain. It’s essential to heed warnings and follow park regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.

The best time to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is typically during the spring or fall when the weather is mild, and visitor numbers are lower. However, the park is open year-round, and each season offers unique experiences.

Yes, depending on current volcanic activity, visitors may have the opportunity to see active lava flows within the park. The location of lava flows can vary, so it’s essential to check the park’s website or contact the visitor center for updates before planning your visit.

Yes, there are guided tours available in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offered by various tour companies. These tours may include transportation, guided hikes, and informational programs led by knowledgeable guides.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park boasts over 150 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging treks. Popular trails include the Kīlauea Iki Trail, Devastation Trail, and Mauna Loa summit trail. Trail maps and information are available at the visitor center.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park holds deep cultural significance for the Native Hawaiian people, who consider it a sacred landscape. The park is home to numerous archaeological sites, petroglyphs, and cultural landmarks that offer insights into the traditional practices, beliefs, and heritage of the Hawaiian culture.

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