Drive Chain of Craters Road

View Driving Down Chain of Craters Road

NPS Photo


Chain of Craters Road is an Exceptionally Scenic and Spectacular Drive.

Chain of Craters Road
Chain of Craters Road

Chain of Craters Road (formerly Cockett's Trail) was dedicated on April 15, 1928. Built at a cost of $148,000, it ended at the rim of Makaopuhi Crater. Chain of Craters Road to the coast (to Kalapana) from Makaopuhi was opened in 1965, and then partly buried in 1969 at the start of the Mauna Ulu eruption. Post Mauna Ulu eruption, Chain of Craters Road was realigned and reopened in June 1979.

The coastal region of the park was home to a number of villages; Kamoamoa, Lae ‘Apuki, Kealakomo and others. Numerous trails, home sites, heiau (temple), petroglyphs and agricultural sites attest to the complex uses of this area over the centuries since first human settlement. During the 13th Century, Hawai‘i's first luakini heiau (a temple designated for human sacrifices) was built by Priest Pa‘ao. Waha‘ula (red mouth) Heiau was consecrated to the God Kū and remained in use till 1819 after King Kamehameha died. This and tens of thousands of other archeological sites have been buried under lava since 1969.

Since 1986, lava has flowed repeatedly over Chain of Craters Road/Highway 130. The Park's acreage has been increased by hundreds of acres and nearly 9 miles (14.5 km) of road have been inundated by the flows. In June 1989, Waha‘ula Visitor Center and associated buildings were burnt and covered by lava. The Waha‘ula Heiau was surrounded by lava more than once and finally buried entirely in August 1997. The Kamoamoa village site, heiau, campground, picnic area, and black sand beach were covered by lava in November 1992.

In 2003, flows covered Chain of Craters road just past the Hōlei Sea Arch. When conditions permit, a drive down to the "End of the Road" offers visitors an opportunity to view excellent examples of the slow advance of lava across the coastal plain. These flows are characteristic of pāhoehoe on relatively flat terrain at a great distance from its vent.

Presently, the Chain of Craters Road is 18.8 miles (30.3 km) to the end of the road with an elevation change of about 3,700 ft. (1,127.8 meters). Chain of Craters Road begins off of Crater Rim Drive, 3.3 miles or 5.3 kilometers south of Kīlauea Visitor Center.

No food, water, or fuel is available along the Chain of Craters Road. Vault-type toilets are available at Mauna Ulu parking area (3.5 miles from the Crater Rim Drive junction) and at the end of Chain of Craters Road.

June 27 Lava Flow and its effect on Chain of Craters Road

A lava flow emerged from Kīlauea Volcano's Pu'u' Ō'ō vent in the remote East Rift Zone on June 27, 2014 and is slowly advancing towards the town of Pāhoa and threatens to cover the community's two main access routes. To sustain access in and out of the area, the NPS is working in cooperation with the State of Hawai'i, Hawai'i County, and the Federal Highway Administration to construct an emergency access route between the park and Kalapana along the previously lava-covered portion of the old Chain of Craters Kalapana road.

Listed below are stops and distances. Click on stops for more information.
Distance From the Beginning of Chain of Craters Road Distance From Kīlauea Visitor Center
Stop #1Lua Manu Crater 0.5 mi / 0.8 km 3.8 mi / 6.1 km
Stop #2Hilina Pali Road 2.3 mi / 3.7 km 5.6 mi / 9.0 km
Stop #3Pauahi Crater 3.3 mi / 5.3 km 6.6 mi / 10.6 km
Stop #4Mauna Ulu 3.7 mi / 6.0 km 7.0 mi / 11.3 km
Stop #5Mauna Ulu Flow Across Chain of Craters Road 4.1 mi / 6.6 km 7.4 mi / 11.9 km
Stop #6Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu 6.4 mi / 10.3 km 9.7 mi / 15.6 km
Stop #7Kealakomo Lookout 9.9 mo /15.9 km 13.2 mi / 21.2 km
Stop #8Pu‘u Loa Petroglyphs 16.3 mi / 26.2 km 19.6 mi / 31.5 km
Stop #9Hōlei Sea Arch 18.8 mi / 30.3 km 22.1 mi / 35.6 km
Stop #10End of Chain of Craters Road 18.8 mi / 30.3 km 22.1 mi / 35.6 km

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Last updated: February 8, 2018

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