Volcano National Park
The newest part of Hawaii
Hawaii had two big draws for me - the telescopes on Mauna Kea and
National Park. We woke up early and started the long (two hour)
from the resort (Kailua-Kona) side to the eastern side of the Island
half an hour south of Hilo). The trip around is quite scenic - we
through a number of climate zones and small towns, some great views and
desolate places. After a long drive (and an unscheduled bathroom
we arrived at the Park headquarters. Time for lunch! We
the park, stopped in Volcano (the town) and ate lunch at the Lava Rock
Cafe in the village of Volcano and then returned to the park for our
Thurston Lava Tube
The first major stop on the circle route is the Thurston Lava
The 300 foot tube is a remnant from a flow before 1790 - the lave
over forming the tube, the source blocked up and the tube flowed until
was empty. In 1913 Lorrin Thurston discovered the tube and it is
now a well developed and traveled piece of the Park. The park has
walk ways, lights and stairs to make it completely accessible.
Our second stop is the was the Devastation Trail. When the
Kilauea Iki Crater erupted in the 1959 it ejected tons of stone onto
jungle. The light rock burned and buried most of the plant life
a few tree trunks from the original forest is still around. The
buried the trees trunks and solidified around them leaving holes in
32 years after the eruption life is starting to colonize the expanse of
Kilauea Iki Trail
the Devastation Trail we
were going to continue on the circle drive route but the overlook of
Crater tempted us to walk down into the caldera and see the
We drove back to the parking lot for the Thurston Lava Tube and noticed
trail sneaking out of the lower end of the parking lot. The trail
obviously well traveled (wide) and completely tropical. After
20 minuets of walking, you come out into another world.
The surface is like
nothing I've ever hiked on - it's like a giant paved parking lot that's
thought hundreds of earthquakes and is venting steam. The surface
cold - this was a lake of boiling lava in 1959, but it hasn't erupted
30 years. The large cracks have moist warm air flowing out of
and have stained regions around the vent. The rocks themselves
very porous - some look like sponge and are really light.
couldn't stay for long. The weather was somewhere between mist
light rain and without adequate weather protection, we were getting
After perhaps half an hour in the crater, we started the 380 foot
back to the road.
Highway to the Coast
Given the limited time, we cut short the circle tour round the crater
started heading for the coast. Out next stop, given the huge
in front of us was Pauahi Crater - a double crater that had lava in it
1973 and 1979. There is still a distinct ring around the crater
the "high lava" mark where the lava had filled to. There are a
of offerings on the lip of the crater.
a long descent off the bluff,
we came down to the ocean. This land is of varying ages - lava
crisscrosses the plain with some areas without life, others well
We stopped at Holei Sea arch and walked around. The lava
on the ground were so interesting, we almost forgot to look over the
to see the sea arch. Wow! Small black sand beaches are
exposed and then covered by the next crashing wave. Being washed
here would be a death sentence.
The End of the Road
sea arches the road just ends. Lava from the Pu'u O'o vent flowed
and covered over the road in 1983. Seeing a road just disappear
this is a little strange. Depending on the flow, lava is
within walking distance of this point, but not for us. The lava
blocked up a few miles from the ocean and the lava was pooling at the
of the ridge, about 6 km from where we were. It was near the end
the day so we weren't about to go for hike.
We walked around the lava
at the end of the road and watched the sun sink below the ridge.
was very impressed with this park - some day I hope to return.
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Tags: Hawaii(13), volcanism(8), lava(8), rock(5), cave(4), trail(3)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > The Big Island of Hawaii > Volcano National Park
Beautiful pictures! They bring back wonderful memories. My husband (now deceased) and I spent 9 days on Hawaii to celebrate our 40th Anniversary. We toured the observatories and Volcano park, and the coral reef by submarine. We also did a fly-over by helicopter. Wonderful trip!
Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 00:40:35 Edit
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