The Spectacular Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is coming up on their anniversary, as it was established as a national park back on August 1, 1916.  This national park can be found on the Big Island and it surrounds two of the areas’ active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. 

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Kilauea is the volcano that has made the news in recent months, due to the numerous eruptions that have occurred.  While the flowing lava has been devastating to the area around Kilauea, the Kahuku section of this park is still open to the public.  However, people are cautioned about visiting the area at the moment due to the sulphur dioxide that is affecting the air quality as well as the vog and ash that can be seen blowing through the skies.  Those that will be affected the most are those with respiratory issues. 

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Even though some of this park is off limits to tourists for the moment, that doesn’t mean that the area is any less beautiful than it has ever been.  Everyone who does choose to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will love taking a guided hike through the Kahuku area.  If areas of this park were not closed, there would be more than three hundred thousand acres for people to explore.  Out of all that acreage, there are one hundred and fifty miles of trails that venture through deserts, rainforests, and volcanic craters. 

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One of the more popular hikes is the People and Land of Kahuku, which lasts for approximately three hours and is two miles in length.  During that time, a guide takes visitors around the loops that display how and where people lived there for generations. 

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The Palm Trail is a slightly challenging hike that continues for a little more than two and a half miles as it passes a native forest and volcanic features from 1868 eruptive fissures.  Learning about the native tree, ohi’a tree, is easy on the one-mile Ohi’a Lehua walk, while everyone will learn about the cinder cone of Pu’u o Lakuana on a short half mile hike in that area. 

Some of the most breathtaking views can be seen from the Paths and Trails hike that is about two miles in length.  This hike has some challenging sections, but the views from the overlooks make the journey along it worthwhile. 

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Once Kilauea decides to stop wreaking havoc inside this magnificent park, visitors will once again be able to stop at the Kilauea Visitor Center to watch a short film that shares information about the park.  Afterwards, they can grab a park map before venturing out on the Crater Rim Drive or they can check out the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum first. 

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At the museum, guests will see maps, videos, and geological displays that all focus on the study of volcanoes.  Thomas A. Jaggar was the first person to tackle the study of volcanology at Kilauea, and his research has been instrumental in what is known about the area today.  Anyone that happens to be at the museum at night will find that it is the perfect spot to watch the Halemaumau Crater as it glows under the nighttime sky. 

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Some people may consider bypassing the Crater Rim Drive, as they will think it is too close to the volcanic activity, even when Kilauea is not actively erupting.  However, those people will miss the major attractions that can be found around the ten-and-a-half-mile loop.  The museum is one of those attractions as are the Kilauea overlook, the Devastation Trail, the Thurston Lava Tube, the Halemaumau Crater, and the Kilauea Iki Crater Overlook. 

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Even though parts of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are currently closed, it doesn’t mean that it will be forever or that everyone needs to stay permanently away from the area.  Travelers should still consider this as a popular destination within the Big Island of Hawaii and plan to discover the beauty that it contains at some point in the future.

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