Frequently Asked Questions as of April 19, 2019
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: We will reopen Nāhuku again, but do not have a timeline. We are awaiting a final National Park Service (NPS) report on the safety and condition of Nāhuku, including LiDar comparisons of before and after last year’s events. While we work to ensure the tube can be accessed safely, the park is also working on mitigating parking congestion and related safety issues at Nāhuku, which were an issue prior to the 2018 eruptive events.
A: Most of Kīlauea Iki Trail reopened on Fri., April 19 – in time for National Park Week. Park at Kīlauea Iki parking lot, and hike Crater Rim Trail towards the closed lava tube parking lot. Hike in and hike out the same way, a 2.4-mile one-way trek. The trail crew made significant repairs to the switchbacks which were destroyed when large boulders up near the rim were loosened by earthquakes, then crashed down through the trail and retaining walls, landing on the crater floor. The section of trail leading to and on Byron’s Ledge is badly damaged and remains closed.
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: We are working on designs and compliance to repair the trail, the road and the Kīlauea Overlook area. Funding to repair the roads and trail is pending. We do not yet have a timeline for repairs or reopening.
A: We are considering reopening several trails that were closed due to hazards posed by past eruptive activity. The area around Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō is on the list of areas to be assessed, but there is not a schedule for reopening at this time.
A: If you compare the park’s 2018 visitation (1,116,891 recreational visits) to 2017 (2,016,702 visits), visitation was down 45 %. January – March 2019 figures reflect about a 30% decline in visitation from a year ago. Since then, there was a noticeable surge in visitation during Spring Break, with more than 4,000 visitors in Kīlauea Visitor Center on some days, which is close to 2017 visitation numbers. Also worth noting is visitation at our Kahuku Unit, located on the SW slopes of Mauna Loa in the Ka‘ū District. Kahuku remained open during the eruptive cycle, and increased operation hours to five days a week. Kahuku visitation increased about 181 percent from 2017 (9,097 visitors) to 2018 (25,535 visitors).
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. Additional funds will be sought as the park continues its recovery efforts into the future.
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: May 1, 2019