News Release

Park shares 2021 visitation numbers and tips for visiting lesser-known sites

Three hikers on an old lava flow with short vegetation nearby
Three hikers traverse the 1868 Mauna Loa lava flow in Kahuku. Mauna Loa is visible in the background

NPS Photo/J.Wei

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News Release Date: February 22, 2022

Contact: Jessica Ferracane, 808-985-6018

Hawaii National Park, HAWAI‘I – In 2021, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park welcomed 1,262,747 people to the park. The park is among the top 100 most-visited national parks in the U.S. last year (#63).  

While most visitors to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park limit their visit to the often-crowded summit of Kīlauea hoping to witness an eruption, the volatile history of Mauna Loa volcano is revealed in the park’s uncrowded Kahuku Unit, located in Kaʻū.

The Kahuku entrance is just an hour drive south of the park’s main entrance, with eight hiking trails, a deep pit crater enrobed in native plants, and a 150-year ranching history. Rolling green puʻu (hills) intersect with lava from the 1868 eruption of Mauna Loa, one of the most profound natural disasters in Hawaiian history. It is a captivating landscape, and one that most visitors miss on their way to Kīlauea. 

Another “must-go” park, located about 100 miles from the main entrance of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, is Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site in Kawaihae. The massive heiau (temple) built by Kamehameha the First, his warriors and other kāne (men) is a monument to the beginning stages of the Hawaiian Kingdom. This is where Kamehameha sealed the fate of his Kaʻū cousin, Keōua Kūʻahuʻula, ending a bloody civil war. It is also where blacktip reef sharks cruise over a submerged heiau. A scenic stretch of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail starts just south of the heiau. 

Kahuku and Puʻukoholā Heiau do not charge entrance fees. The $55 Hawaiʻi Tri-Park Pass provides access to three fee-charging parks in Hawaiʻi: Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park and Haleakalā National Park on Maui. The tri-park pass is available at the participating parks’ entrance stations and is valid for one year from the purchase date. 

The National Park Service (NPS) 2021 visitation statistics for all parks are available on the NPS Visitor Use Statistics website. Visitation at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National in 2021 increased 114% from 2020 when 589,775 people came during the first year of the pandemic. 
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Last updated: February 22, 2022

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