Plan Your Visit

Visitors standing on an observation platform on a coastal cliff
Kealakomo Overlook on Chain of Craters Road (NPS Photo/Janice Wei)

Top ranger tips for a successful visit to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Park visitation is high during this time of year. Plan ahead to make sure your visit goes smoothly.

  • Turn Left for Adventure and Less Crowded Trails. When you enter the park, get in the left lane, and turn left at the entrance station to drive down the 19-mile Chain of Craters Road towards the park’s dramatic lava-covered coast. Stop at crater pullouts along the way, hike along the Mauna Ulu fissure eruption, connect to Hawaiian culture at Pu‘u Loa Petroglyphs, and enjoy scenic overlooks and the Hōlei Sea Arch.
  • Kīlauea Iki Trail. If Kīlauea Iki is on your must-hike list, set your alarm or set your sights on a different trail. This newly reopened four-mile loop trail is the most popular hike in the park and parking at the trailhead is jam-packed after 9 a.m. Park at Devastation Trail parking lot instead. Adding another 2.2 miles to your trek will subtract the stress. Plan to hit the trail by 7 a.m., and be out by 10 a.m.

  • Sunrise at the Summit. Watching sunrise over Kīlauea caldera from Steaming Bluff is a mystical experience, and all the proof you need that Kīlauea is still very much an active volcano. It’s also an ideal time to ponder the summit collapse that occurred during the 2018 eruption. The park is open 24 hours, 365 days a year (except for Kahuku).

  • Mauna Loa Road is well worth exploring during peak hours, especially in good weather. Kīpukapuaulu offers an easy, forested hike, and the views and birding are excellent along the way to the Mauna Loa Overlook at 6,662 feet.

  • Visit Kahuku. The Kahuku Unit is free, never crowded, and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Located on the mauka (inland) side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5 in Ka‘ū.

  • Leave your drone at home. Recreational drones are not allowed in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. They disturb wildlife, interfere with park operations, and bother people trying to enjoy natural sounds.

  • Take the Pono Pledge. Vow to stay safe, and to ensure your park’s incredible geologic, natural and cultural resources are here for future generations to behold by taking the Pono Pledge. Pono means “the right thing to do” in Hawaiian. Be pono!

Last updated: January 6, 2020

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Mailing Address:

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


(808) 985-6101

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