Kīlauea Eruption & Summit Caldera Collapse Recovery

Frequently Asked Questions as of February 21, 2020

A: Most of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has been open since last fall, including much of the backcountry and many sections of popular frontcountry trails near the summit of Kīlauea volcano, 24 hours a day. The Kahuku Unit remains open Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
A: Please visit the park website “Plan Your Visit” page for a wide range of suggestions and a calendar of upcoming events: https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/things2do.htm.
A: Nāhuku, also known as the Thurston Lava Tube, has reopened, however there is very limited parking.

  • Alternate parking for Nāhuku is at Kīlauea Iki Overlook, a half-mile distance.
  • Please park in designated spaces only, do not walk on or along the road, and plan to come back later if the parking spaces near the lava tube are full.
  • For a truly scenic adventure, include Devastation Trail, Byron Ledge, the Kīlauea Iki loop, and Nāhuku all in one hike by parking at Devastation Trailhead or Puʻu Puaʻi (6.7 mi/ 10.8 km round-trip from Devastation Trailhead, 7.7 mi/12.4 km from Puʻu Puaʻi).
  • We highly recommend exploring Nāhuku before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
  • Do not touch the walls or delicate tree root systems. Experience the lava tube with your eyes.
  • The cave is lit from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Outside of those hours, flashlights are recommended.
A: All four miles of Kīlauea Iki Trail reopened on September 21, 2019. On November 9, a 1.1-mile section of Byron Ledge Trail connecting Kīlauea Iki Trail to Devastation Trail reopened.
A: The open areas of the park are as safe to visit as they were before last summer’s closures. Unsafe areas and areas that require further evaluation remain closed to visitors. Kīlauea is still an active volcano, and while it’s not currently erupting, volcanic hazards still exist like falling onto hardened, razor-sharp lava, localized heavy concentrations of volcanic gases that can exacerbate respiratory and heart issues, cliff edges, hazardous earth cracks, sinkholes along trails and wind-driven ash and other particulate matter. Visitors are urged to heed all posted signs.
A: Yes! The contract to repair Crater Rim Drive and Crater Rim Trail between Kilauea Military Camp to Kīlauea Overlook has been awarded to Hawai‘i-based construction company Jas. W. Glover, Ltd. Work will begin by mid-February 2020, and should be complete by the summer. Waldron Ledge and Crater Rim Trail (aka "Earthquake Trail") between Volcano House and Kīlauea Iki, and the five-mile portion of Hilina Pali Road from Kulanaokuaiki Campground and Hilina Pali Overlook closed to vehicles will also reopen after repairs are made.
A: Nāpau Trail and Nāpau Crater are open to the base of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent as of July 11, 2019, but the cinder cone itself remains closed due to its hazardous, unstable sides. A 30-foot wall of hardened lava forms a natural barrier at the base of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō. Nāpau Trail is a backcountry trail in the East Rift Zone wilderness area. It’s moderately difficult and there is no water. Pack it in, pack it out. All overnight camping requires a backcountry permit.
A: Many park facilities were impacted by the seismic and eruptive events of 2018, including Jaggar Museum and the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory which are not safe for occupancy. The area is being monitored and the future of the area is still to be determined. The park’s 2016 General Management Plan cites options if Jaggar/USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory were significantly damaged, and one of the options stated: “Explore alternative locations, preferably inside the park and off the crater edge but still within Kīlauea Caldera, to maintain continuity for the historic visitor experience and scientific operations as much as possible.”
A: NPS is working closely with the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) to maintain their presence within the park. The presence of USGS geologists and associated scientists in the area predates the establishment of the park, which contains two of the most continuously active and studied volcanoes in the world.
A: The park expects to receive approximately $2 million in Emergency Relief of Federally Owned (ERFO) funding from the Federal Highway Administration to begin repairs on roads and paved trails that were open when the eruption began. On June 6, 2019, the president signed a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill. Included in the bill is $78 million for the National Park Service to recover from hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters that damaged national park sites in 2018. A team of National Park Service planners and park managers are working to identify potential options for this disaster recovery funding.
An NPS geomorphology team documented significant earth movement around both buildings and the potential for significant additional movement in the future. That’s potentially more important than the actual building damage. There are significant safety issues with both buildings. HVO rests between several faults along the caldera edge east of the building and a fault that runs west of it. The visible faults that run from the parking lot to the buildings are also an issue.
A: The changes to Kīlauea caldera and to Halema‘uma‘u, the volcano’s summit crater, are staggering to anyone who has seen them prior to the 2018 eruptive events. One of many amazing new sights is the section of Crater Rim Drive that slid into Halema‘uma‘u and is currently hanging on the crater wall. Its yellow centerline stripes give it away. Visitors can safely observe this from open vantage points on the south side of Halema‘uma‘u. Parking is available at Devastation Trailhead. Walk to the intersection of Crater Rim Drive and Chain of Craters Road. The route, along Crater Rim Drive, is open only to pedestrians and bicyclists. Be aware of extensive earthquake damage along the road.

Last updated: February 21, 2020

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P.O. Box 52
Hawaii National Park, HI 96718


(808) 985-6101

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