Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park protects 520 square miles on the southeast side of the Big Island of Hawai‘i. The park is a place of wonder to explore, containing two of the most active Volcanoes on the planet, Mauna Loa and Kīlauea. Mauna Loa is 13,677 feet tall, one of the world’s largest volcanoes – only slightly shorter than Moana Kea, the biggest volcano on the Big Island.

Major volcanic and seismic activity from Kīlauea in the summer of 2018 altered the park’s landscapes, closed roads and trails, and showed just how profound the volcano’s actions could be. A park advisory described the 12-week eruption:

Large lava flows covered land southeast of the park destroying over 700 homes and devastating residential areas in the Puna District. At the same time, the summit area of the park was dramatically changed by tens of thousands of earthquakes, towering ash plumes, and 62 massive collapse explosions. The events caused profound damage to park infrastructure unprecedented in the park’s 102 year history including building damage, rock falls, deep cracks in roads and trails, and numerous breaks to water and sewer lines.

The Halemaʻumaʻu crater at the center of Kīlauea changed remarkably during the eruption. The crater is 1,600 feet deeper than it was before 2018 (as a reference, the Empire State Building is 1,450 feet tall). The crater grew in volume from about 60 million cubic yards to 1.2 billion cubic yards. The National Park Service has shared incredible before and after photos showing just how much Kīlauea changed.

Steaming Bluff Kilauea Caldera
Kīlauea from Steaming Bluff

Because Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is such a dynamic place, park conditions may impact your itinereary. Check for updates before your visit and stop by the Kīlauea Visitor Center (next to the park entrance) when you arrive to get current closure information and recommendations.

What to do in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

This is a great park to explore by car and on foot. Kīlauea Caldera is the main attraction, with a Steaming Bluff along its edges and a massive crater to look in upon. Kīlauea is visible from overlooks along Crater Rim Drive (which is no longer open as a full loop) and adjacent hiking trails. Chain of Craters Road descends toward the park’s coast, passing hardened lava flows and craters. The road ends at Hōlei Sea Arch, a thrilling basalt formation. Just up the road, Pu‘u Loa Trail leads to the largest petroglyph field in Hawai‘i.

Holei Sea Arch Hawaii
Hōlei Sea Arch

Hiking Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Holei Sea ArchHōlei Sea Arch
This brief hike crosses a basalt bluff to a landmark sea arch extending into the ocean.
Hawaii Petroglyphs TrailPu‘u Loa Petroglyphs Trail
This 1.4-mile hike traverses an old lava flow to a boardwalk loop within a special area of preserved petroglyphs.

(more trails coming soon)

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Holei Sea Arch Trail Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Basalt Arch Pacific Ocean Sea Arch Hike Chain of Craters Road Hawaii
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park protects a changing landscape. This is true from the eruptive developments at Kīlauea Caldera all the way down to the ocean erosion at Hōlei Sea Arch. How much longer will this 90-foot tall bridge of basalt withstand the surf? Take a short walk - 100 yards each way - to Hōlei Sea Arch and see it while you can! Hōlei Sea Arch is 22 scenic miles from... Read more.
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Tagged with · Arches · National Parks · Ocean Views · Volcano
Distance: 0.1 miles · Elevation change: 15 feet
By: Published: Last updated: April 16, 2019
Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs Trail Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Boardwalk Hike Big Island Hawaiian Rock Carvings
Pu‘u Loa Petroglyphs Trail puts recent geological history and human history on full display. This level 1.4-mile hike crosses a pahoehoe lava flow to a boardwalk loop through an exciting area with thousands of petroglyphs carved by early Hawaiians. The petroglyphs honor the births of those that lived here hundreds of years ago. This short trek in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is sure... Read more.
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Tagged with · National Parks · Petroglyphs · Volcano
Distance: 1.4 miles · Elevation change: 25 feet
By: Published: Last updated: April 16, 2019
Royal Ground Puuhonua Place of Refuge Loop Puuhonua o Honahnah National Historical Park Big Island of Hawaii
To walk through Hawaiian history, head to Pu‘uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park, located on the west coast of the Big Island of Hawai‘i, south of Kona. A convenient hiking trail weaves through the park's Royal Grounds and the Pu‘uhonua (place of refuge). This half-mile long loop passes sixteen numbered markers that correspond with entries in a park brochure to put an... Read more.
By: Published: Last updated: January 9, 2019
Kaumana Caves Lava Tube Park Hilo Big Island Hawaii
The Big Island of Hawai‘i is a dynamic land, where you can find a lava tube on the edge of the island's main city. An 1881 lava flow from Mauna Loa stopped just short of Hilo. Venture up and down a lava tube created by that flow. Enter through a collapsed skylight at Kaumana Caves Park and start exploring. While the entire tube may measure over twenty miles long, visitors can expect to... Read more.
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Tagged with · Caves · Free Trails · Hilo · Lava Tubes
Distance: 1 mile · Elevation change: 50 feet
By: Published: Last updated: January 8, 2019
Rainbow Falls Lookout Hike Wailuku River State Park Hilo Big Island Hawaii
A mile and a half from downtown Hilo, the biggest city on the Big Island of Hawaii, Rainbow Falls pours over a basalt ledge in Hawaii's longest river. The 80-foot tall waterfall takes a broad single-drop plunge. Visitors can see Rainbow Falls (and hopefully a morning rainbow) from Rainbow Falls Lookout in Wailuku River State Park, where 0.2 miles of lets-be-generous-and-call-it-hiking leads... Read more.
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Tagged with · Free Trails · Hawaii State Parks · Hilo · Waterfalls
Distance: 0.2 miles · Elevation change: 40 feet
By: Published: Last updated: January 8, 2019