Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii (Big Island)

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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  • My son at the Jaggar Museum at night
    My son at the Jaggar Museum at night
    by ArenJo
  • My son and father at the steam vents
    My son and father at the steam vents
    by ArenJo
  • Entrance to the Thomas A Jaggar Museum
    Entrance to the Thomas A Jaggar Museum
    by ArenJo
  • keida84's Profile Photo

    Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    by keida84 Updated Sep 14, 2007

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    A'a lava The Devastation Trail

    When I first laid eyes on the volcano it surprised me that it wasn't like Mount St. Helens or Mount Vesuvius. The volcano is actually a shield volcano, broad sloping mountain with what they call "calderas" in which the lava rolls out of instead of spews forth. There are two types of lava in Hawaii. The first kind ropey and smooth in texture and it is known as "pahoehoe". It looks like pancake batter. The other type which is rough, sharp called "clinkery" is known as "a' a'" The Hawaiian name is apt because if you fall or slip on the a'a lava that is what you will be saying, "a'a! a'a, a'a"

    There are many areas to see. It's probably best to start on the Chain of Craters road, but a note of caution: the volcano is still active, so portions of this road can be closed to volcanic activity so it's best to call before setting out. For Lava flow info: 808-985-6000

    Visit the Kilauea caldera. It is 400 ft. deep and 2 1/2 miles across at the widest point. What I found fascinating and a bit unnerving was the steam emanating from its cauldron.

    A bit of folklore here, make sure that you do not take any of the rocks from the park. Madame Pele considers every rock one of her children. If you take one of her "children" legend has it that you will be plauged with bad luck until her child returns. It must be true because the rangers frequently receive packages of rocks from visitors who have taken rocks home, experience bad luck and then mail them back to the park service asking the Rangers to return the rocks back where they belong. I can personally attest that this is true. One of my girlfriends, despite warning, took some rocks to build a gas barbecue in her backyard. Upon her return home she had her brakes go out, all four tires blew out within a period of a week, her washing machine overflowed ruining her new floor, and she was fired from her job. She promptly boxed the rocks up, enclosed five dollars and a note telling the rangers where she had taken the rocks from.

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  • keida84's Profile Photo

    Lava Flows

    by keida84 Updated Mar 1, 2005

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    Road Closed

    In this picture is a good example of Pa'hoehoe lava which looks like burned pancake batter. The lava which comes out of the Pu'u O'o vent flows rather than spews as it makes its way downhill to the sea. There has been only one time when the Kilauea crater actually exploded and that was in 1790.

    Walking on these flows the lava was still warm and make sure you have good sturdy shoes on because you do not want to fall down onto the flow...Ouch!

    We sat out until dark and we were able to see the glow of the lava as it slid into the sea.

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    Hike Kilauea Iki Crater

    by JetlagCity Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Kilauea is the big volcano in Hawaii that's been erupting continuously for 19 years. Kilauea Iki means "little Kilauea". We did a four mile hike across and around the Kilauea Iki Crater. You descend about 400 feet, then walk across the crater from one end to the other, where you go back up and around to the start. Talk about some weird landscape! Follow the cairns (stacks of rocks) across the face of the crater, picking your way between steam vents and fissures. It's a good short hike if you only have one day to spend in the park.

    Still on my list of things to do here - hike to where you can see live lava from Kilauea pouring into the sea. A more dangerous but also more spectacular proposition!

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  • keida84's Profile Photo

    Steamy Lava Fields

    by keida84 Written Mar 2, 2005

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    Steam emanating from the Earth

    Click on the picture to enlarge it and you will see the billows of steam emanating from the cracks in the Earth. When you really stop to think about it we were walking all over x live volcanoe. It is unlikely that it would explode but still you have respect for it as you realise it is much bigger than you and there is no where to run.

    These lava fields are on the Chain of Craters road near some of the "newer" lava flows, but close to the Kiluaea Caldera.

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  • RickinDutch's Profile Photo

    See the lava flows at night

    by RickinDutch Updated Sep 11, 2006

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    And the road ends here!
    1 more image

    This has become a popular activity so expect crowds. You hike out to the lava flows before sunset and then stay and see the lava flow at night. Wow! The creation of land right before your eyes!!
    The hike is not for little ones. It is over very rough A'a lava flows for about 1.5 miles (the distance changes as the lava changes it flows) each way. When we went, the flows were getting further from the road.
    Bring water, good shoes, and a very good flash light for each person for the walk back. Water because it is bare lava you are crossing that is black and gathers the heat, even with a breeze blowing we were hot and thirsty. Good shoes because it is very rough and uneven ground, especially the A'a lava. There is no real trail, just a bunch of folks wandering in the wilderness.
    And when I say crowded, I mean a hundred cars parked along the road when we arrived at 4:30, a good 2 hours from sunset.

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    Hot Lava

    by kyoub Written Jul 6, 2004

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    Lava

    Volcanoes National Park is an amazing place to visit. Plan on staying from morning until after dark. There is so much to see, it takes quite awhile. My husband had to stop at every crater in the park, the steam vents, Thurston Lave Tubes, then down the chain of craters road all the way to the end. There we had to check out the beach and the pavement where the lava went over and closed the highway.

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    A Live Volcano!

    by Royal63 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    A large crater.
    1 more image

    You cannot go to the Big Island and not see this awesome, spectaculor park. We were there from 8am to 6pm. The park itself is open 24 hours, but the visitor center is only open to 5pm. Very inexpensive to enter the park. Bring plenty of film, sunscreen, a hat, binoculors, and wear hiking boots or jogging shoes. Please don't expect to spend just a few hours there. You literally need to drive around the road, stop at all the points of interest and walk as much as you can. There are some places that really smell bad from the sulphur. If you are pregnant, have heart or other problems, roll up your window and keep going. Use this link for a travel guide.

    http://www.nps.gov/havo/visitor/craterdr.htm

    In this picture, the lighter color areas are sulphur. You can walk around or inside the crater. Doesn't smell too bad, unless you get close to the sulphur.

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    Worth a visit even if there are no flowing lava

    by 2rs Updated Feb 22, 2004

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    The Halema'uma'u crater

    Even if the lava is not flowing during your visit to the Big Island, the Volcanoes National Park is a must.

    It's a remarkable place with many interesting things to see. You can drive your own car at the Crater Rim Drive which goes around parts of the Kilauea Caldera and down to the Halema'uma'u Crater inside the Kilauea Caldera. Here you can walk to the rim of the Halema'uma'u Crater. The Chain of Craters Road goes down to the coast where the lava flows reached the ocean, the scenery along this road is spectacular and the Pu'u Loa Petroglyph trail must not be missed.

    Start of at the visitors center wher you wil get maps of the area and updates if there are any current lava flows. The the Jagger Museum is a good place to go for info on what's really happening and see the seismographs that records the constant earthquakes. If you want to wilk inside a lava tube then The Thurston Lava tube is an option. The first part of the tube is lit but there is a 300 meter long second part that you need a flashlight to enter.

    There are also several trails the somewhat unsual hike in the lavalandscape.

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    The Land of Pele

    by RickinDutch Updated Sep 11, 2006

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    Gifts to Pele
    4 more images

    A visit to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is a must for any visitor to the Big island. And if you are staying on the Kona side, I wouldn't recommend trying to make the drive to the park and back in one day. There is just too much to see and do within the park to be able to make the roundtrip.

    Entry to the park is $10 per car and the entry ticket is good for 7 days! First place to stop is at the visitor's center on your right just a short way into the park. It is a very nice center with a large shop, lots of interactive displays, guided hikes, videos, and lectures from park rangers. You can get the latest update on where the lava is flowing here.

    There is a road that goes all the way around Kilauea Crater with lots of places to pull over and view the crater. We stopped at the steam vents, the Jagger Museum, the Halema'uma'u Crater, the Thurston Lava Tube, and made the drive all the way down Chain of Craters Road.

    The lava flow moves all the time. When we were here in June of 2006, the only way to view the flow was to drive the 16 miles down Chain of Craters road and then hike 1.5 miles over very rough A'a lava. It just amazes me that it still flowing after 14 years. I have a seperate tip about the hike out, as it isn't even Kilauea that is erupting, but a completely seperate volcano called Pu'u 'O'o outside the park.

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  • AKtravelers's Profile Photo

    Hike Across Kilaeua Iki Crater

    by AKtravelers Written Sep 14, 2007

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    Beginning the trek across the crater bottom
    1 more image

    Deservedly the most popular hike in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the jaunt across Kilaeua Iki Crater. It is a spectacular hike along the bottom of a crater that bubbled and boiled in 1959 and then hardened into a flat half-eaten bowl of chocolate pudding (or so it seems). A round trip of about 3 hours, including a 400 foot descent, a mile-long crater-bottom stroll, a 400-foot climb and a rim walk, it is easy enough to be finished by a 9-year-old but beautiful enough to entrance a worldly adult. I recommend doing it in the morning and starting from the lava tube, descending first. THat way you walk with the spectacular opening in front of you and the sun behind you the whole way -- you get the best vistas without being blinded or even having to turn your neck! I imagine doing this hike in the middle of the day would be a blistering experience!

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  • Nathalie_B's Profile Photo

    Volcanoes National Park

    by Nathalie_B Written Feb 28, 2009

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    Steam Vent
    1 more image

    Once you arrive at the main entrance – Kilauea Visitor Center – it will be the beginning of an amazing experience. The national park surrounds the area of Kilauea Caldera and offers many incredible nature wonders.
    Start driving through this vast area and the first thing you’ll see will be the steam vents, you may think that these are sulphur fumes that come from the underground, but it is actually rain water that sinks all the way down to the heated rocks and comes back as a steam. If you stand close to one of these steams you’ll fell how warm it is.
    A path named Steaming Buff Trail is also offering a stunning overlook on the Kilauea Crater. Huge area of cooled lava that covers the land as far as you can see. There’s another overlook area, right by the Jagger museum, but this one was less foggy when we arrived and the visibility was much better than the one from the museum area. This of course depends on the wind and this is why I recommend seeing the Caldera from all the possible angles.
    Don’t expect to see burning lava from here, and definitely not during the daylight. For the spectacular view of flowing lava go to the Puna District and access the area driving on road 130.
    The Entrance to the National Park costs $10 per vehicle and the ticket is good for 7 days, so you can always return and explore this huge place

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    Where the Lava Meets the Sea

    by AKtravelers Written Sep 12, 2007

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    Me and tasty primordial soup

    Until June 2007 (just a couple of months before our visit), lava flowed directly into the ocean. THat flow has since stopped, but it's still fun to hike over the recently formed blacktop to see the primeval coastline of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. THis must be a view similar to the one seen atthe formation of these islands or even atthe formation of the earth, when the water below would have been the primordial soup of molecules just waiting for the spark needed to initiate life! How exciting!

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    Go to the End of Chain of Craters Road

    by AKtravelers Updated Sep 21, 2007

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    Sean and Brenda at the end of the road

    Nothing shows the unstoppable nature of a lava flow like going to the end of Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Here, the local authorities desperately wanted to keep the road open. but what could they do? Until June of 2007, molten hot lava poured over this road from a fissure in Kilauea's side. So the road remains closed, ended abruptly by the equivelent of black puss from a zit on the face of the earth -- except much hotter and very very unstoppable.
    To get to this place, you have to walk about half a mile from the place where you park your car. Wear sunscreen or some protection, as the walk is completely unshaded.

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  • AKtravelers's Profile Photo

    Halema'uma'u Crater: Home of Pele

    by AKtravelers Written Sep 22, 2007

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    Halema'uma'u from the rim
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    The highlight of Chain of Craters Road (one of many!) is Halema'uma'u Cater. According to the Hawaiians, this is the home of Pele, the volcano god. To the rest of us, it's a nice half- mile stroll to look into an enormous, steaming crater. Halema'uma'u is actually a crater in a crater, residing at the base of Kilaeua Crater, but to the naked eye on land, it seems likethe biggest crater in the park. A must see!

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    The Volcano National Park

    by Mikio Updated Apr 1, 2008

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    Area where the molten lava enters the Pacific Ocea
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    The Volcano National Park is the biggest attraction on the Big Island, as it should be. The Park is well maintained and is magnificent. I've been to the Grand Canyon and Yosemite before, and I can say in all honesty, the Volcano National Park is
    right up there with these two well known parks on the US mainland. No trip to the Big Island is complete without a visit to the Park. If you don't have three days to explore the area, be sure to get there in the morning and drive around the park before buses arrive around 11 a.m. The drive down the Chain of Creator Road is a must. The landscape there is unforgettable.
    Currently, the main crator at the Park is erupting! (Spring 2008) Only the goddess of Volcano (Pele) knows how much longer it will last. The sulfur level is very high near the park. Be careful!

    Please consider visiting the area where the lava enters the Pacific Ocean. The hike is only 20 minutes. Easy hike. On the way back, you can stop at Lava Tree State Park in Pahoa. These two attractions are free! Not inside the National Park, that's why.

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