How to visit Volcanoes National Park, circa summer 2019.

​Volcanoes National Park is an exquisite place--it has long been the #2 visitor attraction in the entire state of Hawaii (after Pearl Harbor). The Park is open (with some areas still closed), and awesome. It is also vastly different from its pre-2018 eruption. If you are expecting to see a fire and smoke filled crater, you will need to adjust your expectations. There is currently no red/hot/live lava visible anywhere on the island, including inside the National Park. Rather, you'll be experiencing the recent effects of the volcano.

The current highlights of Volcanoes National Park are below, based on our opinion:

  • Kilauea Iki Trail. This is a true highlight activity in the Park. Kilauea Iki dramatically erupted in 1956, and left behind a glorious flat lake of lava which has hardened into a relatively smooth black surface you can walk on. It is still considered "hot," although not to the basic touch. But if its been raining you'll likely see steam coming from the cracks. You are also likely to see the glorious Hawaiian flowering tree called Ohia-Lehua in this part of the Park.

    • The thing we really love about this hike is it allows you to literally walk into, and experience, a recently-active volcanic crater. Just imagine it all heated up a few thousand degrees and you get the idea!​​

  • The area around the main visitor center is open, including Volcano House, and trails nearby.

    • A great walk is from the Steam Vents area to Volcano House and back. For first-time visitors, some explanation will be necessary--the massive, canyon-like hole in the earth (called Halemaumau) was not there at the beginning of May, 2018. There was a much smaller hole in the earth, where the lava glow could be seen at night. The massive eruption several miles away in Leilani Estates housing area effectively "stole" the lava from the reservoir beneath the "main crater" inside the Park, and shot out all that lava (and probably much more) into the neighborhood and eventually created 875 acres of new coastal land. ​As that lava reservoir drained, the intense weight of the mountain collapsed into the reservoir, and continued to collapse repeatedly (some 80,000 localized earthquakes happened over three months) creating huge landslide and the massive hole that is the "new" Halemaumau Crater. The photos below (all courtesy USGS) show the caldera in various stages. The 3rd photo isn't from the exact same viewpoint, but it does illustrate the massive change that has occurred.

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