Learn about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

One of the 50 states that comprise the United States of America is Hawaii. On August 21, 1959, Hawaii formally joined the United States as the 50th state. With 137 volcanic islands spanning 1,500 miles (2,400 km) and belonging to the Polynesian subregion of Oceania physio graphically and ethnologically, Hawaii comprises almost the whole Hawaiian archipelago. 

Hawaii’s land area is made up of a group of 8 major islands and 124 islets that were formed by a series of newly formed volcanic mountains. From northwest to southeast, the eight major islands are Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and Hawai’i, which is also the name of the state

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

In 1916, the year the National Park Service was founded, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and Haleakala National Park were designated as “Hawai’i National Park.” Mauna Loa and Kilauea, two of the most active volcanoes in the world, are located here among the more than 330,000 vast acres of designated parklands. Many of the species found in the park are considered rare, protected, or endangered. 

Activities

A park film, reference materials, guided walks, and interpretive events are all available daily at the Kilauea Visitor Center, which is located right inside the park’s gate. In the visitor center, a park store run by the Hawaii Pacific Parks Association offers a variety of items, including books, photographs, maps, clothing, and more.

Cultural Sites

Black lava field

Another special feature of the park is its cultural sites, which span six centuries of Native Hawaiian habitation. Among these features are ancient footpaths, petroglyph fields, lava tube caverns that were formerly inhabited, and even the preserved footprints of travelers who crossed the Ka’u Desert in the late 1700s but were killed by deadly ash fall.

Human footprints fossilized in Ka’u desert ash were found by geologist Ruy H. Finch of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The prints were only accidentally discovered. After visits to Hawai’i National Park in 1919 and 1920 by National Park Director Stephen Mather and his assistant Horace Albright, the Park Service decided to acquire the Footprints area. 

Pu’uloa is the name of a large area covered with an incredible number of images in hardened lava, known as petroglyphs. Over 23,000 petroglyphs have been found at the Pu’uloa archeological site, including 84% of the total motif with cupules or holes, circles, various geometric shapes, enigmatic patterns, anthropomorphic figure depictions, canoe sails, and even feathered cape motifs.

Lava tubes were utilized as protection from the weather and dangerous threats. Also, lava tubes played a significant role in several rituals and funerals. The neatly prepared and wrapped remains of important people were sometimes left in the caverns. No tours or admission are allowed inside the cavern to protects these burial caves.  But you can see many lava tubes and walk through them.

And of course the general beauty and landscapes of the park are breathtaking ad must sees as you visit.

Operating Hours

All year round, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is open every day. Opening hours for the Kīlauea Visitor Center and Park Store are daily at 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. South of Hilo, between mileposts 70 and 71, is where the Kahuku Unit of the park may be found. From Wednesday through Sunday, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, this area is open. At 4:00 pm, the gate will be closed. Junior ranger assistance at the Kilauea Visitor Center begins at 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

Best Time to Visit

When most of the United States is cold and you want to escape to a warm, tropical location, November through March is the greatest time of year to visit Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Being so close to the equator, Hawai’i Volcanoes is generally warm all year long.

One thing to keep in mind is that the rainy season runs from November to March, but don’t let that stop you from traveling there because the rain usually passes through Hawaii as quickly as it comes.

Tips for Your Visit 

  • Stay on designated routes, pay attention to any warning signs, and avoid restricted areas for your own safety. These areas are at risk of hazardous volcanic gases and unstable terrain.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to travel. Consider staying at hotels on the island’s eastern side to get the most out of your trip.
  • Stay to open roads and paths. Do not enter closed roads and trails since they are hazardous.
  • Avoid going into holes and cracks. People have died and suffered grave injuries after falling into cracks. Avoid approaching cracks because they have unstable edges.
  • Rockfalls can happen at any time. Pay close attention and keep away of any cliffs.
  • Falls on lava rock are like falls on broken glass, so wear sturdy shoes and long clothes.
  • Don’t go hiking at night. Even those who are familiar with the area need to exercise caution.
  • The Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is a remote location. Strong and uncontrollable natural forces are continually changing the terrain of the Kilauea volcano. Stay away from closed places and be mindful of the risks involved with this dynamic natural activity.

Native Hawaiians

The park pays tribute to Native Hawaiians, protects their historic and archeological sites, and keeps alive their culture and ideals. Native Hawaiians consider the park’s land to be “Aina a ke akua e noho ai,” or “the land where the god dwells,” and they also think that the Goddess Pelehonuamea lives in the Kilauea volcano’s summit crater Halema’uma’u. 

The park supports Native Hawaiian customs and works with Native Hawaiian tribes because Mauna Loa and Kilauea are sacred cultural landscapes and it is important to preserve the Hawaiian way of life. The park also serves the function of preserving Hawaiian culture. This is because of the fact that Native Hawaiians, who have inhabited the islands for around 1,600 years, consider the park’s landscape, as well as the plants and animals that call it home, to be sacred. Therefore, preserving the parks also aids in the preservation of customs and beliefs.