Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a United States National Park located on the Big Island of the island state of Hawaii in the United States of America. The national park is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day, year-round.

Kilauea Visitor Center is open daily 7:45AM-5PM and Jaggar Museum is open daily from 8:30AM to 5PM. (24-25 Dec, 1 Jan hours vary).

Above all, be respectful. The people of Hawaii are very spiritually inclined, and consider the volcano to be a sacred place, the home of the Goddess Pele. Also, it is a volcano, so it may pay to be cautious.


Arching fountain of a Pahoehoe approximately 10 m high, 2007

Radiocarbon dating suggests that ancient Hawaiians settled this area of Puna and Ka`u some time between A.D. 1200 and 1450. The coastal area was likely settled first. Evidence of living areas can be found in the remnants of house platforms and habitation caves still scattered throughout the lowland and upland areas. Trail systems later connected the villages along the coast to house sites in the upper regions as well as provided access to the upland resources.

Major historic events also took place in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park including the death of a large portion of a warrior party by an explosive volcanic eruption of Kilauea in 1790. Evidence of their last march can be found in footprints preserved in the hardened ash. The Ka`u Desert has also revealed evidence of intensive use of temporary shelter sites along a major trail system connecting the lower Ka`u District and Kilauea. Living on an active lava landscape can be found literally everywhere in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Over 14,000 prehistoric archaeological features have been recorded.

The first European to travel through here was the Reverend William Ellis in 1823. Numerous eruptions and lava flows drew adventurers and scientists to the crater rim. Remnants of these early visits can be found in the trails and historic roads that cross the park. The historic 1877 Volcano House, which overlooks the Kilauea Caldera, was one of the early guesthouses in the park. Today, it is used by the Kilauea Art Center. The 1941 Volcano House, perched on the caldera rim, continues to provide lodging for park visitors. The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), founded in 1912, preceded the establishment of the park by four years. The Whitney Seismograph Vault, part of the 1912 HVO facility, still remains. Remnants of a former pulu factory remain hidden in the forest. World War II impacted the park as well. Several areas of the park were used for bombing practice and the historic Kilauea Military Camp which preceded the park establishment by only a few months, was developed as a rest and relaxation camp for military personnel and this use continues today. During World War II, it served various roles including housing of POW's.

The park was established in 1916. Work was initiated to provide basic infrastructure for the fledgling park in the 1920s, with more infrastructure development occurring in the 1930s as part of the Emergency Conservation Work program and later the Civilian Conservation Corps.


Halema'uma'u Crater from its overlook

The landscape is varied from the expected volcanic lavas (there is more than one kind), to dry forest to rainforest to rocky beach. Calderas, pit craters, lava tubes, crevices, geothermal vents and flowing lava are some of the volcanic manifestations. A caldera is a large, basin-shaped volcanic depression, more or less circular, the diameter of which is many times greater than that of the included vents. A pit crater is a crater formed by sinking in of the surface. It is not primarily a vent for lava.

Five volcanoes make up the island of Hawai`i: Kohala, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, Mauna Loa, and Kilauea. Volcanoes that will never erupt again are considered extinct. Dormant volcanoes have not erupted in historic time (the last 200 years in Hawai`i) but probably will erupt again. Active volcanoes have erupted in historical time (the last 200 years in Hawai`i).

Flora and fauna

Hapu`u pulu (Cibotium glaucum), a tree fern endemic to Hawaii

The Hawaiian Archipelago is the most geographically isolated group of islands on Earth. The Park sits on the southeastern edge of the youngest and largest island at a latitude of 19°N. Stretching from the summit of Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet to sea level, the Park protects a wide diversity of ecosystems and habitats in seven different ecological life zones. Native Hawaiian species include carnivorous caterpillars, happy face spiders, colorful Hawaiian honeycreepers, the largest dragonfly in the United States, crickets partial to new lava flows, endangered sea turtles, and just one native terrestrial mammal - a bat.

Hawaiian plants and animals began to evolve over 70 million years ago in nearly complete isolation and over 90% of the native terrestrial flora and fauna in Hawai'i are found only in the Hawaiian islands. This level of endemism surpasses all other places on Earth - even the Galapagos Islands. Consequently, the Park is a fantastic laboratory for the study of biogeography and evolution within the Pacific Islands. Today, the Park harbors the descendants of those first colonizers - numerous evolutionary marvels such as mintless mints and nettleless nettles - plants adapted to life without plant-eating mammals.

Despite their protected status, the Park's treasure trove of species faces decimating threats from declining habitat outside Park boundaries, invasive plants, bird malaria, wildfires, feral cats and pigs, and introduced goats, sheep, rats, mongoose, ants, and wasps are all taking a toll. Three endangered species, the nene, Hawaiian petrel and the hawksbill turtle are targeted for full recovery by the National Park Service and its partners who are actively engaged in restoring habitat, guarding nest sites, monitoring threats and population impacts and removing alien wildlife.


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 68 68 68 68 71 71 72 73 73 72 70 68
Nightly lows (°F) 49 49 50 51 53 54 55 56 55 55 54 51
Precipitation (in) 9.3 8.8 11.3 9.5 6.4 5.1 7.4 6.7 6.2 7.3 12.6 12.1

   Data from NOAA (1981-2010)

Weather at Kilauea's summit (4000' elevation) varies daily and may be rainy and chilly any time of the year. Temperature varies by elevation. At the summit of the volcano, temperatures may be 12 to 15 degrees cooler than at sea level. The coastal plain at the end of Chain of Craters Road, where lava is entering the ocean, is often hot, dry, and windy with the possibility of passing showers.

Get in

By car

Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is located on the Big Island of Hawai`i.

By bus

By air

International and mainland carriers service Hilo and Kona International Airports. Hilo and Kona Airports are also served by inter-island carriers.


Entrance fees:

There are several passes that allow free entry for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot or on bike. These passes are valid at all national parks including Hawaii Volcanoes National Park:

In 2016 the National Park Service will offer several days on which entry is free for all national parks: January 18 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), April 16-24 (National Park Week), August 25-28 (National Park Service's 100th birthday weekend), September 24 (National Public Lands Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day).

Get around

NOTE: Due to periodic rises in volcanic activity, closure of certain areas of the park may be necessary due to high sulfur dioxide levels. For constant updates, click here.
Crater Rim Drive and Chain of Craters Road

There is no public transportation within the park. Maps and brochures showing all roads, trails and attractions are available at the Visitor Center.


Many people can spend several days exploring all that the park has to offer. There are a number of excellent hikes, showcasing most of the flavors of Hawaiian geological activity.

Thurston Lava Tube


Kilauea Iki fissure eruption 14 November 1959

Rangers on duty in the Kilauea Visitor Center (7:45AM-5PM daily), will assist hikers with trail information, maps, and permits. National Park Service information links: day hikes, overnight hikes.



There are a few other tasty restaurants nearby in the town of Volcano Village 1–2 minutes north of the park.


From local bars or a machine at the information center.



There are more options nearby in the quaint town of Volcano Village 1–2 minutes north of the park.


Namakanipaio and Kulanaokuaiki are two drive-in campgrounds and there are many backcountry hiking/camping areas located within Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. These campgrounds are FREE - however, proof of payment of park entrance fee is required.

Drive-In camping is available on a first-come basis. NO reservations or permits, and no check-in are necessary. Stays are limited to 7 days in a month and cannot exceed 30 days per year.


All day hikers and overnight backcountry users must register and obtain a free permit at the Kilauea Visitor Center (7:45AM–4:45PM daily). Permits are issued on a first-come basis no earlier than the day before your hike. Overnight stays at campgrounds are limited. Check with rangers at the Kilauea Visitor Center for specific campground locations and allowable numbers.

Stay safe

Kilauea Iki Trail in 2010

Heed the instruction of park rangers and obey signs on roads and trails.

Go next

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