Kilauea Caldera - Hawaii Volcanoes Park Trail

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the state's premier natural attraction, containing two of the most active volcanoes in the world, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. The park extends for 377 miles from the 13,777-foot summit of Mauna Loa down to the Pacific, where Kilaluea, the youngest of the volcanic mountains, has since 1983 been pushing into the ocean from a vent, creating new land.

Hawaii Volcano National Park Compared to more active volcanoes around the Pacific Rim and in other areas, Hawaii's volcanoes are fairly benign, so you can pass eruptions and lava flows in relative safety. No matter where you look, you'll see volcano views from a range of perspectives.

Hawaii Volcano National Park Much of the park is preserved as wilderness, but it does provide 150 miles of trails, two visitor centers, and two scenic drives with a wealth of volcano views An 11-mile drive, called Crater Rim, passes by many rising steam vents. The Chain of Craters Road, a 46-mile round trip journey, goes by historic pit craters and heads down toward the ocean. Along the way you can see lava flowing like molasses. Three days has been suggested as a good time frame for exploring the park if you're not taking extensive hikes that eat up more time.

Among the top hikes is the trail to Halemaumau Crater, emitting steam and sulfur. It's a moderate 3 1/2-mile hike and goes down 500 feet to the floor of Halemaumau Crater.

Hawaii Volcano National Park You can also get a view and walk into a lava flow on a 10-minute walk from Crater Rim Drive.

The Volcano House Hotel and Restaurant and the Kilauea Visitors Center and Park Headquarters are where you'll learn a great deal about the park and where you can get permits for overnight camping. They're all just inside the park's gate.

There's no way to predict exactly what you'll see at the park. With luck, you'll view streaming rivers of red lava and you might see fountains of lava shooting hundreds of feet into the air. Or, the volcanoes could be completely still and silent. Bulletins sometimes keep you up-to-date on the volcano's activities.

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