Volcanoes National Park is on the Big Island of Hawaii, about a 45 minute drive up the mountain from Hilo.
Who can resist the excitement and drama that come with visiting a park with actual volcanic eruptions?
However, before you go, it helps to be prepared. Since lava and volcanic eruptions are natural events, it’s impossible to guarantee you’re going to see spewing lava on your visit. If you’re lucky, you may get a glimpse. Do your homework before you get there to avoid disappointment.
Once you’re there, the best thing to do first off is to visit the visitors center to find out the goings-on. Park Rangers will be able to tell you if and where lava is currently flowing above ground or into the sea, as well as whether there are any hiking trails open that will get you closer to the action.
Must See Attractions:
One of the must-sees at Volcanoes National Park is from Jagger Museum – a view of Halemaumau Crater. A crack in the floor of Halemaumau Crater broke open in 2008 and is now a gaping hole over 500 feet across. From this hole is a steady stream of vog (volcanic smog), often thick enough to obscure the blue sky overhead. Inside that hole is a massive lava lake, which sometimes gets close enough to the surface. When this happens, the lava illuminates the vog so it glows bright orange at night.
Another awesome attraction is the Thurston Lava Tube. A lava tube is a long cave that was created by lava flows receding several hundred years ago. As you’re in there, be sure to imagine what it must have looked like with red hot lava rushing through! (It isn’t red hot now, it’s just the lighting that makes it appear red!)
You’ll also notice steam vents scattered all over the park, which offer just a hint of the frenzy of volcanic activity occurring below your feet.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park also hosts a number of events and workshops throughout the year. For those who are interested in learning more about the park, its ecosystems, wildlife, and more, check the park website for current schedules.
Please note that parts of the park may be closed or evacuated without notice due to vog or volcanic activity. Be sure to check out the park’s webcams, which allow you to peer right into an active volcano. You can see lava lakes along with rising steam and ash.
Hey, unpredictability is just part of the charm of Volcanoes National Park!