Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Kilauea's Pahoehoe Lava (J. Kauahikaua, USGS)

Contact Information
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
P.O. Box 52
Hawaii National Park, HI 96718-0052
Telephone Park Headquarters/Visitor Information: (808) 985-6000 (daily, 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., HST)
Fax: 808-985-6004
Eruption Information Message: 808-985-6000 (24 hours)
E-mail: HAVO_Interpretation@nps.gov

Hilo and Kona Airports are served by inter-island carriers. Some major airlines have direct flights to Kona from the continental United States. Rental cars may be reserved at both airports. At various locations the public bus (Hele-on, phone 808-935-8241), commercial tour buses, taxis, motorcycles, and bicycles are available. No rental vehicles or bicycles may be obtained in the park.

Camping & Lodging
Volcano House Hotel, across from the Kilauea Visitor Center on the caldera rim, provides lodging (including rustic cabin rental), gift shops, a restaurant, and snack bar. Contact the hotel at 808-967-7321. The park has two drive-in campgrounds: Namakani Paio, located off Highway 11, and Kipuka Nene, along Hilina Pali Road. Each campground has restrooms, water, a pavilion, and fireplaces. No firewood is available, however. Camping is on a first-come, first-served basis, and stays are limited. For more information call 808-985-6011.

The park has distinct climate zones so visitors should be prepared for a wide range of weather conditions. Weather at Kilauea's summit (4000' elevation) fluctuates daily and can be rainy and chilly any time of the year. The coastal plain at the end of Chain of Craters Road is often hot, dry, and windy. Bring rain gear, light sweaters and windbreakers, sturdy shoes, hats, water bottles, sun glasses, and high UV factor sunscreen.

In the Mauna Loa backcountry, be prepared for severe weather conditions any time of year, including blizzards, whiteouts, snow, and driving rain. Temperatures drop below freezing at night. The ahu (stone cairn) trail markers can be obscured by fog. Do not lose sight of the ahu behind you while looking for the ahu ahead, as it is easy to become disoriented. Sunlight is intense, especially with snow cover.

Pace yourself as you ascend Mauna Loa, and be prepared for rigorous conditions. Altitude sickness is common there, so be ready for the necessity of moving back to lower elevations.

For weather forecasts call 808-935-8555.

Volcano Hazards
Volcanoes are magnificent, awe-inspiring—and dangerous. Eruptions are possible at any time. Always stay upslope from active lava flows and remain on higher ground. Stay upwind of volcanic gases. Persons with breathing problems, heart difficulties, pregnant women, infants, and young children are especially at risk around volcanic fumes. They contain hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter. Other hazards include steam explosions where lava enters the ocean. The lava enters the water at 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. Sea water explodes into steam and boiling water, and molten lava and rocks blast skyward. Dangerous blocks of lava and rock are tossed as far as one-half mile inland.

Methane gas is created when lava flows over vegetation, filling underground lava tubes. When the methane ignites, the ground explodes up to 100 yards ahead of the advancing lava flow. Therefore, do not approach lava through vegetation! Another fascinating feature of volcanic activity that can also be deadly is benches. Lava creates new land when it enters the ocean. This new land is called a bench. The lava enters the ocean and solidifies into shattered pieces, which slide down the underwater slope. Rubble builds on the surface, giving the appearance of solid land. But the bench is unstable and can collapse without warning into the sea. Heed signs warning of closed bench areas.

Eruption Information Message: 808-985-6000 (24 hours)

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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