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 within 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

Hikes in 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.
Kipukapuaulu Trail HawaiiKīpukapuaulu Trail
This 1.2-mile nature trail loop visits a forest oasis within the lava flows below Mauna Loa.
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.
Sulphur Banks Steaming Bluff LoopSulphur Banks Trail – Crater Rim Trail Loop
This 1.6-mile hike starting from Kīlauea Visitor Center tours a colorful hydrothermal area and looks into Kīlauea Caldera from Steaming Bluff.

Points of Interest in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Tree MoldsTree Molds
See molds cast by a lava flow at the hollowed sites of old trees.
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Kipukapuaulu Trail Forest Hike Nature Trail Loop Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Filled with bold volcanic features and landscapes reinvented by eruptions, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park might seem an unlikely place to find a deep-rooted forest packed with plant diversity and a thriving bird population. Kīpukapuaulu rises like an oasis, framed the less-fertile lands forged by more recent lava flows. Kīpukapuaulu Trail is a 1.2-mile long nature trail loop with 185... Read more.
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Tagged with · National Parks · Nature Trails · Volcano · Volcanoes
Distance: 1.2 miles · Elevation change: 185 feet
By: Published: Last updated: May 2, 2019
Tree Molds Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Lava Tree Molds Hawaii
Trees grow big and strong, but they are outmatched by the forces of lava. A tree's last stand against a lava flow can result in a tree mold - a hole in the surface of hardened lava where a tree once stood. Tree molds provide information about lava flows and preceeeding forests. See tree molds with your own eyes at a spot near the entrance of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. A tree... Read more.
Tagged with · Lava · Tree Molds · Volcano · Volcanoes
By: Published: Last updated: May 2, 2019
Sulphur Banks Trail Kilauea Crater Rim Trail Loop Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Hike Hawaii
Kīlauea Volcano underwent major transformations when it erupted in the summer of 2018. See changed landscapes in and around Kīlauea Caldera from Steaming Bluff, where steam escapes from hot spots just below your feet! Behind the bluff, a hydrothermal area called Sulphur Banks displays colorful mineral deposits, accompanied by eggy smells. Sulphur Banks Trail – Crater Rim Trail Loop... Read more.
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Tagged with · Hydrothermal · National Parks · Nature Trails · Volcano · Volcanoes
Distance: 1.6 miles · Elevation change: 50 feet
By: Published: Last updated: May 2, 2019
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: May 2, 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: May 2, 2019