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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, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Go to the park website for free guided hikes, special programs and Hawaiian cultural workshops available at Kahuku: https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/kahuku-hikes.htm. In addition, 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 4 p.m. most days, and at other locations.
A: Most of the park has been closed since May 11 due to frequent and damaging earthquakes, triggered by collapse/explosion events within Halema‘uma‘u, the summit crater of Kīlauea Volcano. 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 advises that the event is over, we will assess damages, develop a recovery strategy and complete repairs.
A: The ongoing seismic activity continues to degrade park infrastructure on a daily basis. Earthquakes have cracked overlooks, trails, parking lots and roads, including Highway 11 (open to through traffic), Hilina Pali Road and more. The outdoor overlook at Jaggar Museum has sustained major fractures to its concrete deck and rock walls, and buildings have been significantly damaged.
A: At this time, closure of the Kīlauea area of the park is indefinite. Recent scientific analyses suggest the current activity could persist for at least another several months or longer (see https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vsc/file_mngr/file-184/Summit%20scenarios_7-5-18.pdf and https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vsc/file_mngr/file-185/USGS%20Preliminary%20Analysis_LERZ%20July%2015%202018.pdf) We appreciate the support of visitors and the community during this challenging time.
A: Chain of Craters-Kalapana Road has been re-established as evacuation route. The road is damaged, but passable. The one-way gravel route is for evacuation purposes only if Highway 130 is covered in lava.
A: Highway 11 remains open but ongoing summit earthquakes have caused many cracks, sink holes and bumps between mile markers 28 and 38. Drive safely, obey all posted speed limits and do not stop along the shoulders. Motorists should be prepared for sudden changes, delays and repair work.
A: We continue to monitor the ongoing impact of increased seismic activity in the vicinity of Mauna Loa Road, and due to worsening damage to Highway 11, the park will not open Mauna Loa Road at this time. 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 20,000 feet above ground level (AGL) and five-nautical-mile radius originating from the former overlook vent within Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the summit of Kīlauea.
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 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 Kahuku Unit, now open five days a week, pending air quality issues. 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.
A: Limited access by NPS staff into the closed area is allowed and necessary to protect park resources, including cultural and natural resources and critical park infrastructure. Determination to conduct work in the closed area is done on a case-by-case basis and requires a hazard analysis of the work site, steps to mitigate these risks, and a three-level review and approval by the safety officer, the operations section chief, and the incident commander.
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. Hawaiʻi Pacific Parks Association, the park’s non-profit cooperative partner, has opened a museum retail store location at the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center.
Prince Kuhio Plaza. Come visit park rangers at the new Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association store, and learn about current volcanic conditions and what’s going on in the park. Proceeds benefit six national park sites in Hawai‘i and American Samoa. The popular Hilo mall, located at 111 E. Puainako St., opens daily at 10 a.m.
Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus. You can also find your park at the Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus at 19-4074 Old Volcano Rd., in Volcano Village. Rangers are there most days from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to provide talks and answer questions about the current eruption. Free!
Park rangers also greet incoming arrivals at the Hilo International Airport, welcome cruise ship passengers as they disembark at the Port of Hilo, and inform visitors at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center most Sundays.
Last updated: August 15, 2018