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Big Island Lava Viewing- Volcano National Park

Big Island Lava Viewing- Volcano National Park

Jul 9th, 2003, 08:05 AM
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Big Island Lava Viewing- Volcano National Park

Assuming it will still be flowing when we get there in three weeks, how does one go about getting close to the lava at VNP? After we get to the park, and drive the Chain of Craters Road, what then? Will there be a guide there telling us where to go? Do we make a guess? Also, regarding the hikes, besides the IKI trail and the shorter treks to viewpoints etc. what other day hike should we do? We will be staying 2 nights at the park.

Corgie is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 08:16 AM
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I think every single tourist to VNP asks this question, so don't think you'll be left to struggle on your own! But stop by the visitors center on your arrival for lots of background information. The live presentation was very well done.

The Chain of Craters road dead-ends at the lava viewing area. At sunset, there will be about 100 other cars there. Depending on the flow, you may have to hike up to an hour for best viewing. Here is where being prepared is important - sturdy shoes and long pants. The hiking is done on a new, rough trail, with lots of loose rock. It's easy to slip and fall; when my son did, it was an 8 Band-Aid experience. There was a wagon selling drinks and snacks, but we brought our own. Go to
for lava updates.
patg is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 08:23 AM
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Here is a link with alot of info about Volcanoes National Park and lava viewing:http://www.nps.gov/havo/visitor/lava.htm
We were there in march, and it involved entering the VNP and driving to the end of chain of craters road-which is closed at the end because lava has flowed over the road. You then hike a variable amount over a closed highway then mounds of dried lava. For us it was about 30minutes to 1hour walk to actively flowing lava. You need to bring water, rangers were there as were children and adults, see above photos. I did not find it dangerous but it was hot and you should go in late afternoon early evening to reach the lava flows before dark. Flashlight helpfull to walk back out after dark.
You will love it!
JohnD is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 09:38 AM
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Has anyone ever viewed the lava by approaching from outside the park, i.e., from the dead end at route 130(?). Is the road that the state made there still open and is it any closer to the current lava flows?
Jul 9th, 2003, 10:42 AM
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Please check this link:http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/kilauea/updat..._updatemap.jpg
A map for Volcano national park on expedia website considers "Chain of craters Road"=130. The current active lava flow is much closer to the end of chain of craters road than to other side dead end, in my estimation. Since conditions can vary always a good idea to check with the Volcano National Park Ranger Station, email: [email protected]
JohnD is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 11:32 AM
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Great information. Thanks everyone!
Corgie is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 12:59 PM
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Was there at the end of May. It was a 45 min. brisk hike in to get to hot lava. There was no 'flowing' lava, just creeping/crawling lava and some sea entry lava was visible as well. Lava viewing varies from day to day...if we had been there a month before, we would have had a 5 min. walk to see lava. I would recommend as a previous poster mentioned to go late afternoon. Keep in mind that although the park is open 24 hours, rangers are not there 24 hours to guide/help. They call it a day at dusk. Take your time, bring twice as much water as usual because of heat and wind and bring flashlights. We hustled out before complete darkness so we needed our flashlights for only about 5 minutes. If you do the whole hike in darkness using flashlights, expect it take possibly twice as long because you'll have to take extra care. Footing is solid but very sharp and varied. We did it in shorts and no gloves but if you're not confident in your hiking abilities, wear pants and gloves. We saw people of all ages heading out including some 3-4 year olds. I'd have to admit though, I wouldn't want any little ones walking back out in darkness. As for knowing where to go, just follow the crowd and keep the ocean on your right. I'm sure from a high altitude, the scene looks like a bunch of ants walking around on a lava flow.
tgordo is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 05:15 PM
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Was just there last week. It was about a 3 mile hike each way to the lava. It was oozing in spots, including one spot that looked just like a miniature volcano about 10 feet tall. One and one-half miles of the hike each way is over unmarked broken but cool lava. It can be sharp, and flashlights are a must after dark. Yes there was an injured person we passed on the way back. It is easy to get an abrasion, laceration, or worse if you are not careful. Definitely bring plenty of water. I agree with going about an hour or two before sunset, and recommend covering as much of the unmarked trail as possible on return before it is pitch black (and starts raining as it did). That said it was a wonderful experience and who knows when the volcano will stop. The ant analogy above is spot-on, especially after dark.
Binthair is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 08:03 PM
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I was also there last week - with same comments as Binthair.

A couple of additional comments
- park rangers are at the end of crater road until 9:30pm
- don't always go by what the ranger says at the visitor's center at the main entrance. He basically gave us the impression that nothing was really happening and people were disappointed and that it was a 4 hour hike! It definitely changes minute-to-minute (some of the lava just started flowing while we were there). Since we were only doing one long daytrip to VNP and we were already there, we decided to go down to the end. The rangers there gave us a different story - stating it was good lava viewing. We started walking out at 6:30pm and arrived at the lava at sunset. DEFINITELY recommend this as the time to go. The viewing is so much better at dusk. We picked up cheap $3 flashlights at K-Mart on the way to VNP and they worked just fine - definite necessity for the trip back in the dark.
- weather at the top of VNP may be different than at the end of Chain of Craters Road. It was windy and drizzly rain for us at the top; but dry and comfortable at the bottom.

Kathi is offline  
Jul 10th, 2003, 04:47 AM
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I have been about 4-5 times, I only went once while the sun was up. It is really hot and IMO not worth the trip under the sun. Having said this I am on the islands next week. I don't drive so I called tours to find out if any made night trips up. I was told that a number of groups stopped going because of accidents. I was surprised we never had a problem. I could see an elderly person or overly eager child falling but we went with kids a few times and never had a problem. Still I would head the advice of park guides and actually find someone to take you at night. Just a lot of steam during to the day and way to hot in summer. Find someone to take you at night. I am sure you could arrange a private guide. I don't recall seeing 100 cars at 9pm-10pm when we usually went. You will have a better experience without thouse crowds.

PS. The last queen of Hawaii Lilioukilani, tells people in her autobiography that one of the best experiences on any of the islands is to visit the volcano at midnight. Absolutely too late without a guide but it certainly ruled out a day visit for me.
Sarah is offline  
Jul 10th, 2003, 05:02 AM
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Strongly recommend that you bring a reliable flashlight if going at night. Parts of the trail are marked with reflectors and if their are not others around it might be more time consuming to negotiate the trail over the lava. The most concern should be given to bringing enough water with you. With regard to hiking the lava trail I can not resist playing the > here, "people injure themselves on wet floors in supermarkets, slip on banana peels, and even I occassionally trip on cracks in the sidewalk", any time someone falls can result in an injury, but the risk on this trail is minimal in my opinion compared to the risk involved on the NaPali coast trail on Kauai for example.
JohnD is offline  
Jul 10th, 2003, 08:25 AM
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Wow great advice everyone! We are hiking the NaPali during our first week on the islands so if that doesn't do us in then maybe the lava trail at VNP might just be the ticket! I just hope that the Volcano is still going when we get there. If it stopped flowing the DAY before we got there or something I would be crushed!

10 more days!!!!
Corgie is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2003, 04:47 AM
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Topping for JohnJ.
JohnD is offline  
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