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“Real Live Volcanos”

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
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Triple Crater Hawaii Volcano Hiking Adventure
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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Waterfall and Lava Full-Day Tour from Hilo
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Big Island Hawaii Volcano Adventure
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Useful Information: Activities for older children
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Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed November 8, 2013

Remember that this is an area where molten rock has been flowing, most recently, for the past 10 or so years. It is not a cuddle the bears, moose, deer, antelope, pet/hug the trees, etc., kind of place.

In general, this National Park is a series of craters and lava flows (black to dark brown), live and residual trees locked in the rock/lava. It is a place that is changing daily and you can see the results in real time. This is a place of reality and the transformation of the earth's surface in real time not only as part of a book.

There are hundreds of miles of trails, many over black lava flows with very small plants beginning to grow in the cracks.

It is also a place of Orchids in bloom on the side of the road.

So it is not so much a place of "ask the Ranger", but a place to physically and mentally absorb the marvels of the ongoing creation of the plant.

Enjoy it for what it is! A must see on the BIG ISLAND!!!

2  Thank none202011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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5,146 - 5,150 of 6,706 reviews

Reviewed November 6, 2013

Very much exciting to see the Val canoe in the night..Everybody should visit this park. Especially kids will love it..

2  Thank Sudha V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 6, 2013

Volcanoes national Park (VNP) in Hawaii is a must do if you are in the big island of Hawaii. You will see the steam vents, the smoking caldera, and all the previous lava flows in the area. The rangers are very helpful and can help you customize your visit according to the time spent. Take the road down to the water and see where the lava crossed the road. Walk through the lava tube and see the tropical forest that surrounds the area.

1  Thank Jose P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 5, 2013

Hawaii Volcano National Park is a must for the big island. The crater is awe inspiring. We stopped by the Park ranger station and took a free guided trip to the rim of the volcano. The Ranger provided a great overview of the volcano, fauna, animals, and birds indigenous to Hawaii. She also pointed out invasive plants and animals to Hawaii. As for the Kilauea, the volcano is massive. We stayed to view the lava bed at night from the Jagger Museum. You could see large reddish orange glow emitting from the crater. Be aware the temperatures drop significantly at the rim. Strongly recommend a jacket, long pants, long sleeve shirt, etc are readily available.

2  Thank JSW731
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 5, 2013

The Visitor Center is a must-visit. For those wanting to stay in the Park, and with a firm roof over their heads, the Vocano Lodge is well-situated right across the street from the Visitor Center. We did not stay at the Lodge, but we were impressed nonetheless, because this is not a typical National Park lodge; it actually has a pricey dining room with an impressive modern dinner menu (opens at 5 pm) and a "casual dress" code, with a broad picture window overlooking Kilauea caldera - a giant crater which is impressive when it can be seen through the mist, that is. We would have liked to try the fascinating dining-room menu, but did not - instead we saved our money for a tour to the top of Mauna Kea (see our review of Hawaii Forest and Trails).

We visited the Park in October. Here, weather is crucial, more so than for most Parks. To explain: in October, regardless of the reported "probability of precipitation", it WILL rain at roughly 3 in the afternoon every day, and the mist descends then, obscuring the caldera. But some nights the mist rises - and some nights it does not. We got lucky one night out of three, and joined the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of camera-armed visitors at the Jaggar Museum, which offers the closest view of the Halema'uma'u crater within Kilauea caldera. Within Halema'uma'u is the lava pool - red-hot, but out of view, perhaps even for helicopters, which risk stalling in the high pillar of volcanic gases (volcanic fog, or "vog") which continuously belches from the lava pool. The pool itself is said to be the size of a stadium. The crater it sits in must be a mile wide, within the Kilauea caldera which itself must be several miles wide. The Park buildings actually sit on a broad ledge within the greater limits of the caldera. The night-glow from the lava pool is remarkable (see photos).

On the first day we were there, the drive to Jaggar Museum was closed temporarily because of "vog" drifting over the road. "Vog" is a respiratory burden, containing carbon dioxide and sulfur oxides, and it irritates the eyes (and blocks visibility). The road was opened later in the day, the wind presumably having changed direction. The Rangers are very safety-conscious and will even evacuate campsites if it is felt necessary.

Speaking of rangers, we wish to personally commend Ranger Dean Gallagher. This educated gentleman kindly allowed us to monopolize his time at the Visitor Center. It was an absolute joy to meet a true colleague, who not only told us about all the bird and animal species in detail, but even had their Latin names memorized, and was eagerly willing and able to answer every one of our numerous questions. This is the most knowledgeable Ranger that we have ever met in the many national parks and monuments that we have visited in this country over the years, and we sincerely encourage the Park Service to hire more like him. It was a privilege! And no, we are not related to him.

So .. here are a few tips, for Americans and Germans alike! First, bring enough money to have a dinner in the Lodge dining room. Naturally, window seats are at a premium. Second, stay for several nights here, either in the park or in nearby Volcano Village, a surprisingly quiet little place having many accomodations choices. (See our reviews of places in Volcano Village.) Don't bother to drive all the way from Hilo - stay locally instead! The more nights you stay, the better the odds of seeing Halema'uma'u mist-free. Third tip: vist the Visitor Center, and especially the Jaggar Museum, which has occasional ranger-talks, and has displays on the history of the Volcano. But at the time of our visit, there was no lava entering the ocean at the Coast, so Halema'uma'u crater was the one chance of seeing the work of Pele, the mercurial Goddess of Fire with the glowing gold eyes, whose image is everywhere in the park and whose arguments with her sister manifest as eruptions. And speaking of images .. do visit the Art Gallery next to Park Headquarters (leave your drinks outside). The gallery has a variety of art for sale, from the amateur to the very polished. (Some of the carpentry work was, indeed, very polished.)

Take the Chain of Craters Road down to the 1974 lava flows near the shore; the views along the way are spectacular. But remember that the Coast area can be very hot, and the sun is brighter than you think - take sunscreen, and apply liberally.

No Park is perfect. Bring your own sandwiches - surprisingly, there's not much take-out food to be bought within the park, although the lodge has an informal bar area with snacks. Another of the Park's few drawbacks is that, compared to other National Parks, it has a surprising lack of picnic areas and picnic tables. Hopefully the Park Service will move swiftly to correct this obvious deficiency. Even in October, the "between season", there were plenty of people in the Park.

7  Thank ScienceTrip
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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