It may be hard to walk around any of the Hawaiian islands without walking on or seeing a volcano, but a sure way to see some of Hawaii’s most incredible volcanoes up close and personal is with a visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. The park itself spans more than 500 square miles of land, and has two world-famous volcanoes within its borders. But even with that kind of fire-power, the park is still a great place for hiking and even camping.
The main attractions in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are certainly Mauna Loa and Kilauea. The former is the world’s biggest volcano, when measured from sea level to summit, and the latter is one of the most active volcanoes on earth. Because there are many very active volcanoes in the park, it’s important to find out if there are any road closures or safety warnings before heading out for a visit. Also keep in mind that lava flows can and do change the landscape, so wear shoes with good traction and watch your step!
There are more than 150 miles of hiking trails throughout Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at all levels of expertise, so you could go for a stroll or a challenging three-hour hike, whichever you prefer. Even those in wheelchairs can enjoy one trail, which is wheelchair accessible. One popular trail goes through the Thurston Lava Tube, which dates back more than 350 years. This particular trail is a quick 20-minute walk.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offers two drive-in camping areas, both of which are free to enter (although you’ll pay an entry fee to drive into the park itself). With no reservation system, however, you take your chances on finding a free campsite. Camping outside these campgrounds is by permit only. Check out our post about camping in Volcanoes National Park for more information.
Hours: Open 24 hours a day, year-round
Kilauea Visitor Center – daily, 07:45-17:00
Jaggar Museum – daily, 08:30-17:00
Admission: $10 per vehicle (good for 7 days)
$5 per individual – traveling without a vehicle (good for 7 days)
$25 Hawaii Tri-Park Annual Pass
For more information about the fees, see this page
More Information: The official National Park Service website for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is here, and this is a site with lots of great information (and lots of annoying ads and links). Scroll halfway down the main page to find the links to the useful information.