Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Only A Day

The main feature of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is the 11-mile (18 m) Crater Rim Drive that circles Kīlauea's summit caldera. If you only have a few hours in the park, this is the trip for you.

On the drive around the summit caldera, you will see sulphur and steam vents, pit craters, lava flows erupted in 1974 and 1982, areas recovering from the cinder fallout of the 1959 eruption and a walk-through lava tube. A "must" stop is the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, located next to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The museum, established as a visitor center in 1987, is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Although the observatory is closed to the public, the results of its scientific studies are reflected in the volcano exhibits you will see at the museum and elsewhere. 

Another important stop is at Halema'uma'u, the legendary home of Pele. Halema'uma'u is 3,000 feet (914 m) across and is now more than 280 feet (85 m) deep. The crater depth has varied over the years. In 1924, it was 1,200 feet (366 m) deep, but eruptions since then, most recently in 1974 and 1982, have covered the floor with lava, decreasing its depth. Today, you will see fields of black rocks punctuated with steaming cracks that are encrusted with minerals. People with respiratory or heart ailments, pregnant women and children should avoid sulfur fumes at Halema'uma'u.