Volcano National Park
Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii
One of Hawaii’s most notorious and famous National Parks, “Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park” was established in 1916 as a National Park, a International Biosphere Reserve in 1980, and a World Heritage Site in 1987 to demonstrate the history and living geological experiene of volcanism, geology, and techtonics. It covers the creative process of land masses, the science of volcanoes, migration, and evolution of land from the sea. It also covers the complex history of Polynesian travellers and their inhabitation of the Hawaiian Islands. The protective boundaries of the world’s most active volcanoes – Kilauea and Mauna Loa provides dramatic and creative volcanic landscapes in action. The National Park encompasses over 520 square miles of land for science, outdoor recreation, and preservation of nature and geology. It is a thriving mecca for observation, tourism, scientific study, hiking, and camping opportunities covering diverse environments ranging from the ocean/beach landscapes, lush tropical rainforests, arrid/barren deserts, and icy mountainous peaks. It hosts active volcanic eruption sites such as the Kilauea Caldera, Pu’u ‘O’o vent, and the Eastern Rift Zone. Historically, Kilauea and the Halema’uma’u caldera were considered the sacred home of Pele and traditionally were the location of offerings/sacrifices of gifts to the Goddess. A 1970 explosive eruption demolished a war party in the area killing men, women, and children leaving imprints of footprints in the lava that can be found in the desert. The first European visitors to the volcano were English missionaries William Ellis and American Asa Thurston in 1823 contributing greatly to the written word, publications, poems, literature and art that focused on the area that is now a National Park. More tourists were attracted to the area in the 1840′s settling entrepreneurs building hotels in the area from 1891 to 1904. In 1903, William R. Castle proposed the idea of making a park out of the area. In 1908 Thurston entertained James Rudolph Garfield, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior at the time, as well as a congressional delegation in 1909. By 1911, Governor Walter F. Frear drafted a bill to create “Kilauea National Park”. Boundary disputes stalled the idea, but by 1916 House Resolution 9525 signed by Woodrow Wilson made “Hawaii National Park” the 11th National Park in the United States. In 1960 it was split from the Haleakala National Park that it was a percentage part of. By 2004, an additional 115,788 acres were added to the Park (formerly of Kahuku Ranch) creating the largest land acquisition in Hawaiian history for 21.9 million dollars. A major explosion on March 19, 2008 sent debris over 74 acres damaging the Halema’uma’u overlook. A 1,100 ft lava tube on the park grounds was named after the Thurston family as “Thurston Lava Tube”. Several other hotspots of interest were developed in the Park such as the 1790 Footprints, the Ainapo Trail, Kilauea Caldera Crater, Puna-Ka’u Historic District, Ainahou Ranch, Volcano House, Whitney Seismograph Vault No. 29, Wilkes Campsite, art galleries, Thomas Jaggar Museum, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Bookstore, Gift Shop, Kilauea Military Camp, and the Visitor Center. Directions: The main entrance is located off the Hawaii Belt Road in Volcano, Big Island. From the Hawaii Belt Road, one used to be able to take the Chain of Craters Road past several craters to the coast near the town of Kalapana, but recent lava flows and eruptions have demolished the roads near the coastal zone. The park is one of America’s best National Parks. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.
- “Thurston Lava Tube: Nahuku”
Walk where a river of lava flowed 550 years ago
Experience a rainforest of giant tree ferns and rare native songbirds on your way to and from this underground lava tube. Easy 1/2 mile (.8 km) loop.
~ Marker at Volcano National Park
- Steam Vents
steam vents are scattered over this fault-bounded block that has partially slumped into Kilauea Caldera. Rainwater sinks through the ground and is heated by rocks which carry heat from the liquid rock below. Hot water then rises through fissures to condense in the chilled air. The grassy landscape nearby suggests that soil temperatures are too high for trees to survive easily. ~ marker at Volcano National Park.