Walk across two highly active volcanoes on the Big Island of Hawaii
It is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. From the molten rivers of lava pouring into the sea from Kilauea, to the snowfields on the summit of Mauna Loa, it encompasses fire and ice.
Created by Volcanoes
The park covers about 333,000 acres of land – bigger than the sister island of Molokai. And it’s still growing. Lava flowing from Kilauea has added 600 acres in less than 20 years.
Hawaii itself was created by volcanoes. This string of eight large islands and 124 smaller ones emerged from tons of magma, built up from fiery eruptions on the ocean floor over 70 million years.
Mauna Loa is the highest and most massive mountain on earth. It measures 56,000 feet from its base on the ocean floor, making it nearly twice as high as Mount Everest. It last erupted in 1984.
A year earlier, Kilauea began a series of eruptions that are still ongoing, making them the longest in recorded history. Hot lava bubbles through the earth’s crust, or explodes in fiery fountains. Slow-moving trails of lava creep down the mountainside, scorching everything in their path. Finally, they pour over cliffs into the sea, sending up clouds of gas.
The park is one of the few places on earth where volcanic forces can be safely seen up close. It has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site. Here are some of the park’s other highlights:
Hiking trails: 140 miles of hiking trails wind through a variety of terrain, from the twisted landscapes of crater rims and hardened lava fields, to lush rain forest and tropical beaches.
Crater Rim Drive: this 11-mile road circles the 4,000-foot summit of Kilauea. It crosses the caldera floor and has scenic trails and marked stops that look out over steaming craters and other phenomena.
Sulphur Banks: florescent yellow rocks and the putrid smell of rotten eggs mark these steam vents where sulfuric gases are released.
Thurston Lava Tube: formed by molten lava, this natural tunnel is high enough to walk through standing upright.
Chain of Craters Road: a steep 20-mile descent down Kilauea’s southern slopes gives fantastic views of lava fields, craters and the coastline far below.