Rob (the tour bus driver) stopped at the steam vent which has a railing around it. I didn't see but one of the steam vents because I didn't walk past the one that is in the parking lot. Rob explained that ground water seeps down to the hot volcanic rocks in this area and returns to the surface as steam. It is warm, but it isn't hot like a steam iron. At least this one wasn't. It did fog up my glasses.
The bus driver stopped so we could get out and see the steam vent that was there close to the road. It had a railing around it and bars across it. I also saw a steam vent when we were on our own and I went the wrong way on a trail from the parking lot on the Crater Rim Drive trail and saw other steaming from the ground in the crater areas. Ground water seeps down to the hot volcanic rocks in this area and returns to the surface as steam.
This is where you can see the steam rising from cracks in the ground up close! Make sure you venture away from the parking lot, which only has a man-made steam hole. If you walk a little further, you’ll see steam coming from natural outlets as well as a view of Kilauea Crater.
Ground water seeps down to the hot volcanic rocks and return to surface as steam, especially near the Caldera Rim. Be aware that you'll be all wet after this "Bath from Pele"!
Just a bit further up north we saw the Sulphur Banks. At this spot volcanic gases seep out along with groundwater steam. These gases are rich in carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, the one that smells like rotten eggs. Some gases desposit pure crystals at the banks. Other gases form acid which breaks down the lava to clay. This is stained red and brown with iron oxide.
We especially liked the North Rim. There are more great Caldera views through the green rainforest. We even spotted some sandalwood trees along the way, although only a few remain. At the top of the North Rim we also witnessed another interesting section, passing steam vents above aptly named Steaming Bluff.
This is a treeless plain between the inner and outer cliffs of Kilauea Caldera. The ground just a few feet down is so hot that tree roots can't survive. But shallow-rooted grasses and plants grow there. Ground water seeps down to the hot volcanic rocks and return to surface as steam, especially near the Caldera Rim. Be aware that you'll be all wet after this "Bath from Pele"!
The entire 'Iliahi (Sandalwood) Trail Hike combines several of the interconnecting trails at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It is an interesting and varied hike through Kilauea's contrasting landscape - views into the barren Caldera with its flows of smooth black lava, native rainforest, steaming vents and banks of bright yellow and foul-smelling sulphur.
We especially liked the North Rim. There are more great Caldera views through the green rainforest. We even spotted some sandalwood trees along the way, although only a few remain. It was really raining hard, but it didn't stop us!
You will notice steam vents all over the volcano park ... along the main road you will be able to stop and get close enough to feel the heat. Sometimes you will detect the smell of sulfur near the vents.
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