Kilauea Volcano is one of Hawaii’s most active volcanoes. It lies just to the south of the Mauna Loa Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. For many years, scientists were unsure if this caldera was its own volcano or a satellite of Mauna Loa, but now they’re sure Kilauea stands on its own. It has its own system of magma boiling just beneath the ground, one that extends nearly 40 miles deep into the earth. In Hawaiian tradition, Kilauea is home to the goddess Pele. Ancient songs and stories tell of angry goddess that lava spews forth. With constant rumblings, one has to wonder what Pele is so upset about.
Kilauea Iki Trail
Even as an active volcano, Kilauea is accessible to Hawaiian visitors as part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. From the exhibits at the visitor center to hiking the crater yourself, there are many ways to see this amazing landscape up close. A trip along the Kilauera Iki Trail, a moderately strenuous hiking trail, winds from the rainforest to the rim of the Kilauea Volcano. The four-mile-long loop rises 400 feet from the trail head at Crater Rim Drive to the crater floor and the Pu’u Pua’i cinder cone, then its back to the trail head. It takes most hikers three or four hours to make the loop, a little longer if they want to stop for pictures of bird watching.
The Kilauea Volcano has been erupting in some form or another since 1983, and the volcano was active long before then. It’s no wonder its name means “much spreading” or “spewing forth” in the Hawaiian language. Before the 1980s, there have been some 60 recorded eruptions since records were kept over the last few centuries. The biggest eruption in recent memory happened in November and December 1959. Even today, the lava fields remain an interesting place to see up close—long after the lava cooled.