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Frequently Asked Questions
A: Everyone is invited to visit the park’s Kahuku Unit, located an hour south of the main entrance on Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5 in Ka‘ū. Kahuku is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but can be impacted by poor air quality depending on wind direction. Park rangers continue to serve visitors at Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in Hilo Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days, and at other locations.
A: About two-thirds of the park has been closed since May 11 due to increased and damaging earthquakes, corrosive volcanic ash, and continuing explosions from Halema‘uma‘u, the summit crater of Kīlauea Volcano. Intermittent ash plumes and dangerous debris are being ejected from Halema‘uma‘u. The radius of direct ash fall is around two miles, which includes the Jaggar Museum overlook and areas on Highway 11 within the park boundaries. For safety reasons, there is no recreational stopping on the shoulders of Highway 11 in the park.
A: When U.S. Geological Survey - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory tells us this event is over, we will conduct comprehensive damage assessments and related repairs necessary prior to re-opening closed areas of the park.
A: Earthquakes are hazardous. When U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory advises that the event is over, and have damaged roads and buildings in the park. Explosive eruptions are non-life-threatening events as long as park closures are followed. Associated ash fall impacts the surrounding communities and creates dangerous driving conditions at times. Ash fall is not life-threatening, but you should take precautions.
Volcanic hazards from Kīlauea eruptions (pdf)
A: Yes. The ongoing seismic activity continues to degrade park buildings and infrastructure on a daily basis. Earthquakes have cracked parking lots and roadways, including Highway 11 (open to through traffic), Hilina Pali Road and more. The outdoor overlook at Jaggar Museum has sustained significant fractures to its concrete deck and rock walls. The museum has foundation damage, and other buildings are damaged. Currently the park is without running water.
A: It’s hard to say, and we appreciate the support of visitors and the community during this challenging time. At this time, closure of the Kīlauea area of the park is indefinite.
A: Chain of Craters-Kalapana Road has been re-established as evacuation route. The one-way gravel route is for evacuation purposes only if Highway 130 is covered in lava.
A: It's all about safety. Mauna Loa Road to Kīpukapuaulu is in the impact zone of frequent and damaging earthquakes and ash fall. In addition, if Mauna Loa Road was opened with the majority of the park closed across the highway, everyone would go there, and the road cannot sustain a high volume of traffic. There's extremely limited parking, and a high potential for negative impacts on native plant and animal species. The summit remains closed.
A: Visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes NP spent approximately $166 million in 2017 in neighboring communities, equating to about $455,000 in visitor spending per day. Park management realizes the impact of this closure, however, everyone’s safety is our highest priority.
A: The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), at the request of the NPS, has implemented a Temporary Flight Restriction of 30,000 feet above ground level (AGL) and five-nautical-mile radius from the Kilauea Caldera. The USGS has issued a Red Alert for aircraft in the area.
A: October 2013 due to the federal government shutdown. The park was closed Oct. 1, and reopened Oct. 17.
A: All 134 employees continue to work. Some staff are working remotely in Hilo from temporary office space as guests of the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Incident Management Team and emergency responders are safely working in the park at the Visitor Emergency Operations Center. Other staff members have relocated to the park’s Kahuku Unit, which has expanded operation to five days a week, pending air quality issues, while others continue to serve visitors at the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in Hilo, the Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani campus, and other locations in local communities.
A: There is no reason at this time for travelers to change or alter their travel plans. There are numerous activities still available on Hawai‘i Island (including four other national parks), and part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is still open to the public. All accommodations, activities and attractions on the island are also operating normally, with the exception of those in areas affected by the current volcanic activity (for example, the Volcano House and Kilauea Military Camp, and park campgrounds are part of the park closure). Both public airports remain open.
Park Rangers Relocate to Downtown Hilo to Serve Visitors and Offer Volcanic Insight and Programs
While most of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park remains closed, Park Rangers are greeting and serving visitors at the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center, 76 Kamehameha Avenue in Downtown Hilo.
The Mokupāpapa Discovery Center (administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA) was established in 2003 to interpret the natural science, culture and history of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and surrounding marine environment within Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Since most people will never have the opportunity to visit these remote islands, the facility on the bayfront in Hilo, Hawaiʻi serves to “bring the place to the people” and spur greater public awareness of the region and ocean conservation issues. The Center is free and open Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Now, Rangers are available to meet with visitors and answer questions about Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park at the center. Additionally, they will share daily updates at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to teach visitors about volcanic activity and clarify the conditions at Kīlauea summit. Visitors can also get their official Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park passport stamp. On Tuesday, Hawaiʻi Pacific Parks Association, the park’s non-profit cooperative partner, will open a museum retail store location at the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center.
Last updated: June 22, 2018