Volcanoes National Park - things to see and
If you have the time, Hawaii Volcanoes
National Park is worth a visit or two. It is an
easy one hour drive away from the house. You can
never be sure how hot or cool it will be at the
top so bring a hat, comfortable walking shoes, an
umbrella, your sun screen, and plenty of water but
also a shirt or jacket for your arms just in case.
Use the cooler and pack a picnic lunch and drinks.
The views are pretty amazing and there are plenty
of picnic tables. Alternatively the little town of
Volcano has a few restaurants.
When you first arrive you will
want to stop at the Kilauea Visitors Center to
orient yourself. In the center is a large 3D model
of the park and the rangers behind the desk will
be glad to fill you in on the latest volcano
activity and advise you on what drives and walks
you might want to take. It also has videos and
Crater Rim Drive –
this road used to circle the Kilauea
Caldera. The map provided by the park features
this road and the rangers will be able to tell you
if any section of it is closed due to volcano
Bluff – this is a good place to
stop and is close to the visitor center. A short
walk from the parking area takes you to multiple
views of the Kilauea Caldera which looks
dramatically different then did in early May 2018.
Once finished here continue the drive down the
road to the recently active Halema’uma’u Crater.
The road may be closed past this point in which
case back track and continue the drive back past
the Visitor Center to the areas discussed below.
on the Crater Rim Drive:
- Thurston Lava Tube – if it has been
re-opened it is very cool and an easy walk.
You can visit this in less than an hour.
Crater hike- once the trail has been
repaired and re-opened this is an amazing
hike. This 4 mile loop trail hike takes 3-4
hours or so and is a moderate to difficult
hike. It has a 400 foot descent and at the
end you hike back out. Apply sun screen,
bring your hat, plenty of water and a lunch
or snack. Depending on how much sun exposure
you’ve had you might want a light shirt for
your arms. My favorite version of this hike
starts out of the Thurston Lava Tube parking
area. As you face the crater turn right and
begin a gentle descent through the forest
into the crater. Once you are in the crater
you will see minor vents here and there. As
you continue the hike through the crater
notice the cliffs off to the right – there
are often white birds soaring in the area.
If you have the time you can take a small
side trip to the area and is an interesting
place to stop and have your snack or lunch.
Once you are back on the trail continue the
hike to the end of the crater and hike up
through the woods back to the parking lot.
Trail (one mile roundtrip) – a little ways
past the Thurston Lava Tube is the parking
area for the Devastation Trail. This is an
easy walk that ends with an overlook of the
Kilauea Iki Crater.
Chain of Craters
Road - this drive is quite scenic and
whether you take it all the way to the ocean at
the end is not important. There are many places
to stop and craters to visit.
Huluhulu – this 3 mile round trip moderate
hike is one of my favorites and is usually
not crowded. As usual take a hat, water, and
be prepared for weather changes. The walk
goes over and along lava flows to an ancient
cinder cone. When the lava flowed here in
the 70’s it left this forested cinder cone
untouched. On some days you can see in the
distance vent activity at Pu’u O’o crater
which has been discharging magma and steam