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Pu‘u Pua‘i Overlook Reopens to Public

The Pu‘u Pua‘i Overlook at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has reopened after being closed since February to protect breeding nēnē (endangered Hawaiian geese) in the area.

A couple enjoys the newly reopened overlook. NPS Photos

During the closure, the nēnē parents successfully raised their single gosling and the family has now moved on to their summer grounds.

It’s been a decade since the last gosling was reared in the vicinity, and that nēnē is the grandfather of this year’s gosling, according to Kathleen Misajon, wildlife biologist at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

The young nēnē gosling and its parents near Pu‘u Pua‘i ​Overlook on Feb. 6, 2017

“This year’s gosling was the fifth generation of the same nēnē family I’ve monitored over the years. After a 10-year hiatus, it is really exciting to see this female return to a favored family spot,” Misajon said.

In 1952, only 30 nēnē remained statewide.  In the 1970s, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park began efforts to save the species from extinction. Today, more than 250 wild birds thrive in the park from sea level to around 8,000 feet. There are more than 2,500 nēnē statewide.

During the closure, the park’s facilities maintenance team made improvements to the popular deck, which overlooks Kīlauea Iki crater and trail. Missing boards were replaced, and the deck was painted prior to the reopening.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park facilities maintenance team repairs Pu‘u Pua‘i Overlook prior to the reopening.

Pu‘u Pua‘i is a massive reddish-brown cindercone that formed during an eruption at Kīlauea Iki crater in 1959. It is visible from many areas along Crater Rim and Kīlauea Iki trails.

37th Annual Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Cultural Festival & BioBlitz

Save the date for the free 37th annual Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Cultural Festival & BioBlitz, Saturday, July 8, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Kilauea Military Camp.

The festival’s theme, Hilina‘i Puna, Kālele iā Ka‘ū, (Puna leans and reclines on Ka‘ū), celebrates the two land districts that comprise the national park. People of all ages and districts are invited to enjoy a day of traditional mele (music), hula, and Hawaiian cultural demonstrations, crafts, and games. This year’s festival will again include a “BioBlitz,” a chance to join scientists and cultural practitioners in the field and discover the diversity of biology, geology and culture of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

The 37th annual cultural festival showcases an extraordinarily talented line-up of local performers. Hālau Ulumamo o Hilo Palikū will dance their powerful hula kāhiko, and kūpuna hula group Haunani’s Aloha Expressions also take the stage. Renowned solo musicians Kenneth Makuakāne and Lito Arkangel will sing and play instruments, and the “Songbird of Miloli‘i,” Aunty Diana Aki, closes the festival.

Keiki to kupuna can participate in authentic Hawaiian cultural activities like ku‘i kalo (pounding poi), lomilomi (massage), ‘ohe kāpala (Hawaiian bamboo stamping), play Hawaiian games, discover lā‘au lapa‘au (medicine from plants), make a small kāhili (feather standard), weave lei, and more. All cultural festival activities are located at the grassy lawn and ball field area at Kilauea Military Camp.

The BioBlitz expert-led field inventories will be offered, and include Birds of Kīlauea by Sight and Sound; Nā Mea Kanu o Ka Hula (Plants of Hula); an ADA-friendly inventory, Hawaiian Adze Production, and more. Free registration will soon be available through the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park website, www.fhvnp.org. Visitors can learn more about conservation and biodiversity through fun, interactive exhibits sponsored by many of Hawai‘i’s leading conservation organizations on the festival grounds.

The BioBlitz field inventories run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the cultural festival is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Saturday, July 8. Entrance into the park and all events are free.

Make sure to wear sunscreen and a hat. Bring water, rain jacket, and ground mat or chair. No pets. Lunch and beverages will be available for sale.  This wonderful family experience is a drug- and alcohol-free event.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Free Summer Junior Ranger Programs Begin June 6 and June 13

Keiki from ages seven to 13 years old are invited to become “Next Generation Stewards” in the free summer junior ranger program through Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. A fun-filled, three-day program for keiki ages seven to 10 is June 6-8, and a program for youngsters ages 11 to 13 is June 13-15.

Island youth listen as Ranger Noah explains how shards of volcanic glass, called Pele’s Hair, are formed. NPS Photo by Janice Wei

Each age group begins Tuesday and ends on Thursday. For the first two days, “Next Generation Stewards” begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m. On the last day (Thursday), the program begins at 11:30 a.m. and ends at 7 p.m. The programs will start and end at the Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai.

The summer junior ranger program is designed to encourage a child’s enthusiasm for conservation by connecting the child with park resources and staff, and to inspire his or her appreciation of what is uniquely Hawaiian by exploring the natural and cultural heritage of Hawai‘i.

Participants must bring and be able to carry their own day pack with water, snacks, lunch, and raingear, and hike for age-appropriate distances over uneven terrain at a leisurely pace. All interested applicants must submit an application to register. Contact Education Specialist Gwen “Lanakila” Anderson at (808) 985-6020 or email gwen_anderson@nps.gov for information and an application.

Applications are due by noon on Wednesday, May 17, and selections will be made, and parents notified, on May 18.

The summer “Next Generation Stewards” junior ranger program is co-sponsored by the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association and the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Park entrance fees apply.

Explore Kahuku at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – April – June 2017

Everyone is invited to participate in the free guided hikes, “Coffee Talks” and ‘Ike Hana No‘eau Hawaiian cultural programs in the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, from April through June 2017. Visitors can also explore Kahuku on their own on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A visitor explores the geologic formations of Kahuku 1868 lava flow in Kahuku. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Enter the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on the mauka (inland) side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5, and meet near the parking area. Sturdy footwear, water, raingear, sun protection and a snack are recommended for all hikes. Entrance and all programs are free.

New! Join us for ‘Ike Hana No‘eau (Experience the Skillful Work) Hawaiian cultural demonstrations at Kahuku on the third Friday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon. On April 21 learn how to make tī leaf lei; on May 19, learn to make a miniature kāhili (feather standard); and come weave a small decorative fish out of niu (coconut fronds) on June 23. Programs are free.

New! Get to know your park and your neighbors and join an informal “Coffee Talk” conversation on a wide variety of topics at Kahuku the last Friday of the month. Ka‘ū coffee, tea and pastries will be available for purchase. Coffee Talks are offered free on April 28, May 26, and June 30, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Palm Trail is a moderately difficult 2.6-mile loop traversing scenic pastures along an ancient cinder cone, with some of the best panoramic views Kahuku has to offer. Highlights include relics of the ranching era, sections of remnant native forest and amazing volcanic features from the 1868 eruptive fissures. A guided hike of Palm Trail is offered April 23, May 28, and June 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Pu‘u o Lokuana is a short 0.4-mile hike to the top of the grassy cinder cone, Pu‘u o Lokuana. Learn about the formation and various uses of this hill over time and enjoy a breathtaking view of lower Ka‘ū. This hike is offered May 20 and June 3 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Hi‘iaka & Pele. Discover two fascinating Hawaiian goddesses, sisters Pelehonuamea (Pele) and Hi‘iaka, and the natural phenomena they represent. Visitors will experience the sisters coming alive through the epic stories depicted in the natural landscape of Kahuku on this easy 1.7-mile walk on the main road in Kahuku. The Hi‘iaka and Pele program is offered April 8, May 7 and June 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

People and Land of Kahuku is a moderate two-mile, three-hour guided hike that loops through varied landscapes to explore the human history of Kahuku. Emerging native forests, pastures, lava fields, and other sites hold clues about ways people have lived and worked on the vast Kahuku lands – from the earliest Hawaiians, through generations of ranching families, to the current staff and volunteers of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Learn about the powerful natural forces at work here and how people have adapted to, shaped, and restored this land. The guided hike is offered April 9, May 21 and June 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Realms and Divisions of Kahuku. Experience the sense of place that evolves at the intersection of nature and culture on this moderately difficult two-mile, two-hour guided hike on the Kahuku Unit’s newest trail, Pu‘u Kahuku. Explore the realms and divisions of the traditional Hawaiian classification system at Kahuku. Bring a snack for the “talk story” segment of this hike. Offered April 15 and May 6 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

‘Ōhi‘a Lehua. Learn about the vital role of ‘ōhi‘a lehua in native Hawaiian forests, the many forms of the ‘ōhi‘a tree, and the new disease of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death. Visitors will be able to identify the many differences of the most prominent native tree in Kahuku on this program, which is an easy, one-mile (or less) walk. The ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua program is offered April 16, May 14 and June 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Birth of Kahuku. Explore the rich geologic history of Kahuku. Traverse the vast 1868 lava flow, see different volcano features and formations, and identify many parts of the Southwest Rift Zone of Mauna Loa. Learn about the Hawaiian hotspot and the creation of Kahuku. This guided easy-to-moderate hike is offered April 22, May 27 and June 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Nature & Culture: An Unseverable Relationship (He Pilina Wehena ‘Ole). Hike the Palm Trail and be inspired by a place where hulihia (catastrophic change) and kulia (restoration) can be observed as the land transitions from the 1868 lava flow and its pioneer plants, to deeper soil with more diverse and older flora. Learn about native plants and their significance in Hawaiian culture. This moderate hike is about two miles and takes two hours. The Nature & Culture program is offered April 29, May 13 and June 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Keep up with Kahuku events and visit the calendar on the park website, https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/kahuku-hikes.htm, and download the Kahuku Site Bulletin: https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/upload/2013_11_05-Kahuku-Site-Bulletin.pdf.

Tour Group Caught in Closed Area in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

A tour guide based in France and a tour group of 13 people were caught early Monday morning sneaking into the closed area at Halema‘uma‘u, the erupting summit crater of Kīlauea volcano.

Visitors observing the summit eruption of Kīlauea from the observation deck at Jaggar Museum, one mile away from Halema‘uma‘u Crater. NPS Photo

National Park Service law enforcement officers spotted the group just after midnight, and issued citations for violating the terms of the closure to all 14 people. The tour guide was issued additional citations for operating a non-permitted business in the park and creating a hazardous condition. All 14 were escorted out of the park.

The 44-year-old male tour guide, affiliated with the French tour company Adventure et Volcans, must make a mandatory court appearance and faces a maximum penalty of $5,000 and six months in jail. His name is being withheld as the investigation continues. The violation of closure citations are $100 each, with a $30 processing fee.

“This is a serious violation,” said Chief Ranger John Broward. “Areas surrounding Halema‘uma‘u Crater are closed because of extremely hazardous volcanic conditions that include high concentrations of toxic gases and particulates, ongoing volcanic explosions and frequent collapses of the crater walls,” he said.

Explosions from Halema‘uma‘u can occur anytime, without warning. Last August, a summit explosion hurled a layer of volcanic rock, lava bombs and molten spatter nearly 300 feet beyond the crater rim, and covered an area about 720 feet wide along the rim. It destroyed the power system of a U.S. Geological Survey instrument that was used for scientific research and monitoring volcanic activity. Last October, two explosions blasted lava spatter, rock and glassy particulates a quarter mile from the crater to the closed portion of Crater Rim Drive. In November, spatter from another lava lake explosion damaged the cable on a USGS webcam located on the rim of the crater.

Halema‘uma‘u Crater, a 4.7-mile section of Crater Rim Drive, and sections of the Halema‘uma‘u and Crater Rim trails, have been closed since the most recent summit eruption began in 2008.

“Visitors need to be aware that, while much of the attention lately has been on the hazards of the 61g ocean entry at Kamokuna, the park staff remains very concerned about the ongoing hazards in the vicinity of Halema‘uma‘u,” Chief Ranger Broward said. “Rangers will continue to monitor and take appropriate action to reduce the occurrence of risky behavior in both areas.”

Since July 2016, rangers have issued 35 citations for closure violations at Halema‘uma‘u, and nearly 100 citations at Kamokuna.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Roadway & Parking Lot Striping Work Begins Monday

Visitors and tour operators to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park are advised that a project to re-stripe roadways and parking lots at Kīlauea Visitor Center and Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) begins Monday, March 6 and will cause traffic delays up to 15 minutes.

Thurston Lava Tube

Work begins Monday at the Kīlauea Visitor Center’s (KVC) parking lot. When the KVC striping is complete, the project at Nāhuku will begin. Work should be complete by early May.

An NPS report shows that 1,832,660 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2015 spent $151,246,200 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,834 jobs on island, and had a cumulative benefit to the local community of $189,391,100.

February 2017 Cultural & After Dark in the Park Programs at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park continues its tradition of sharing Hawaiian culture and After Dark in the Park (ADIP) programs with the public throughout 2017.

ADIP and Hawaiian cultural programs are free, but park entrance fees apply. Programs are co-sponsored by Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association. Mark the calendar for these upcoming events:

Ethnobiology of Hawaiian Feather Artifacts. Feather artifacts made by a variety of Pacific Island cultures are among the most beautiful of human creations, and it is often said that feather objects made by the Hawaiian people are the most stunning in existence. Sheila Conant, Professor Emerita of the Department of Biology at the University of Hawai‘i-Mānoa, will discuss various types of feather artifacts, the animals and plants from which they were made and how different types of artifacts were constructed. She will also consider the possible impact of feather collection on native birds. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.

  • When: Tues., Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Twist a Hau Bracelet. Transform hau, used for traditional Hawaiian rope material, into a lovely bracelet, and learn how this strong and fibrous native plant has many versatile uses. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.

  • When: Wed., Feb. 8 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai

The Hylaeus Project and the Newly Endangered Bees of Hawai‘i. Last October, seven species of Hylaeus, the yellow-faced bees of Hawai‘i, became the first bees to ever be listed as endangered. Natural historian Lisa Schonberg co-authored petitions to get them listed, and traveled to Hawai‘i with visual artist Aidan Koch. The pair documented Hylaeus from Kaua‘i to the Ka‘ū Desert via music, photography, writing and art to raise awareness of the endemic bees. Lisa will present their Hylaeus Project After Dark in the Park, an ongoing presentation series at Hawai‘i Volcanoes. Free.

  • When: Tues., Feb. 14 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Lito Arkangel in Concert. Entertainer and songwriter Lito Arkangel shares his original compositions and other Hawaiian favorites. Lito hails from the former sugar plantation town of ‘Ōla‘a, now known as Kea‘au. His love for Hawaiian music started as a young keiki, turning pages for his tūtū wahine (grandmother) while she played piano, and from decades of backyard jam sessions. Lito has since established himself as a popular entertainer throughout Hawai‘i. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing Nā Leo Manu “Heavenly Voices” presentations. Free.

  • When: Wed., Feb. 15 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Kahuku ‘Ohana Day. Keiki 17 and younger and their families are invited to explore the Upper Palm Trail in the park’s Kahuku Unit, and learn to weave a Hawaiian lei. Call (808) 985-6020 to register by February 2.

Families who visit Kahuku can look forward to uncrowded trails and excellent views of Kā Lae. NPS Photo/David Boyle

Bring lunch, snacks, water, light raingear, a re-usable water bottle, sunscreen, hat, long pants and shoes. Sponsored by the park and the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association. Enter the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on the mauka (inland) side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5, and meet near the parking area. Free.

  • When: Sat., Feb. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Where: Kahuku Unit

Weave a Tī Leaf Lei. Learn how to create a tī leaf lei, one of the most iconic and popular lei of Hawai‘i. Park rangers and staff from the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association will lead the instruction and provide the materials. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.

  • When: Wed., Feb. 22 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai

Volcanoes National Park Identifies Victim of Fatal Two-Vehicle Crash

The male victim of a fatal two-vehicle accident that occurred in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Saturday afternoon has been identified as 65-year-old Paul Hernandez of New Jersey.

Nāmakanipaio Campground (NPS Photo)

National Park Service rangers are seeking witnesses to the crash which happened on Highway 11 near the intersection of Nāmakanipaio Campground around 1 p.m. on Sat., Jan. 21.

Hernandez was traveling northbound on Highway 11 in a white Hyundai Elantra sedan. According to a witness, the Hyundai left its lane of travel as if doing a U-turn, and was struck by a blue Toyota Scion headed south, driven by a 33-year-old local male. Hernandez was fatally injured upon impact. The local male was transported by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center.

Anyone with information regarding this accident is asked to call Park Dispatch at (808) 985-6170.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Public Notice of Flight Operations

Photos from the end of Chain of Craters Road within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park by NPS Volunteer Eric Fandrick

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park announces the following upcoming flight plans for the end of January 2017:

  • Jan. 23, between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., and Jan. 26 between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., to shuttle equipment and camp supplies to Keauhou for invasive plant control work at the coast
  • Jan. 23, between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., to remove old fence material from ‘Ōla‘a Tract
  • Jan. 23, 24, 25 and 26, between 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., to shuttle crew and remove fence material and camp equipment from petrel subcolony on Mauna Loa at about 9,000-ft. elevation
  • Jan. 24, between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., for ungulate surveys and control work in Kahuku Unit, between 3,000- and 7,000 ft. elevation
  • Jan. 24, between noon and 3:30 p.m., to shuttle fence material and camp supplies to Great Crack boundary fence
  • Jan. 24, between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., to shuttle equipment and materials for interpretive display near the Ka‘ū Desert Trailhead
  • Jan. 25, between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., to shuttle personnel, fence material, and water tank to Kahuku Unit silversword exclosure and along the Kahuku-Kapapala boundary
  • Jan. 26, between noon and 4 p.m., for invasive fountain grass surveys from coastal areas to southwest boundary below 3,000-ft. elevation

In addition, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory may conduct flight operations over Kīlauea and Mauna Loa to assess volcanic activity and maintain instrumentation.

The park regrets any noise impact to residents and park visitors. Dates and times are subject to change based on aircraft availability and weather.

Management of the park requires the use of aircraft to monitor and research volcanic activity, conduct search-and-rescue missions and law enforcement operations, support management of natural and cultural resources, and to maintain backcountry facilities.

New Coastal Lava Viewing Area Opens in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Park rangers opened a newly established lava viewing area at the Kamokuna ocean entry in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park today, following a two-day closure caused by a large lava delta collapse on New Year’s Eve.

New lava cascade at Kamokuna in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on Monday, January 2. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

The new viewing area is approximately 900 feet east of a cascade of lava pouring into the ocean, and about 60 feet inland of the coastal cliffs. Rangers, in conjunction with USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists, thoroughly assessed the area, and established the new viewing site with white rope lines and numerous signs that clearly mark hazardous closed areas.

Visitors are strongly urged to stay out of closed areas and heed all posted warning signs and park rangers.

Visitors who do not heed warnings not only endanger themselves but the lives of others, including our park rangers, who work tirelessly to ensure a safe visitor experience,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.

Visitors begin the five-mile hike to Kamokuna shortly after the park opened the lava viewing area on Tuesday, January 3. Today marks the 34th anniversary of the eruption of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent on Kīlauea, the source of the lava flows going into the ocean today. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

After the delta collapse on New Year’s Eve, a group of five visitors ignored rangers and warning signs and slipped beneath the white rope lines into a closed area at the coast. Two park rangers had to chase after them, and made them turn around – 15 minutes before the area they were standing on collapsed into the ocean.

In addition to the threat of another land collapse, the toxic plume of volcanic particles and acidic gas generated by lava mixed with ocean water is very dangerous, and irritates the lungs, skin and eyes. Land collapses, which trigger tsunami-like waves, and the toxic gas plume, are also a serious threat to aircraft and boats. There is currently a 1,000-foot above-ground-level temporary flight restriction at Kamokuna.

HVO scientists estimate that nearly all of the 26-acre lava delta is now gone, along with more than four acres of older coastal cliff area, which included the former lava viewing site. The collapse on New Year’s Eve started in the afternoon and lasted several hours, creating blasts of volcanic rock and a series of damaging waves, in addition to a thick, dark plume of debris and gas.

It is closer from the east entrance to reach the new lava viewing area within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. From the east, or Kalapana/County of Hawai‘i side, visitors must hike about 4.2 miles one way along the gravel emergency access road. This entrance is open daily from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. From the park, or west side, visitors can hike out from the Coastal Ranger Station at the end of Chain of Craters Road, about five miles one-way. About one mile of the hike goes inland of the gas plume over hardened, uneven lava flows. The park entrance is open 24 hours a day.

Hikers need to be prepared for a long trek. Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes or boots, gloves to protect the hands, and long pants to protect against lava rock abrasions.  Carry plenty of water (three to four quart/liters per person). Wear sunblock, sunglasses and a hat. Visitors who plan to stay after dark need a flashlight and/or headlight with extra batteries.

For hiking tips, visit the park website https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/upload/Hiking-Tips.pdf. For County of Hawai‘i Lava Viewing information, call (808) 430-1966. For the latest eruption updates, visit the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php. Monitor air quality at http://www.hawaiiso2network.com/.

New Year’s Eve Delta Collapse Causes Temporary Closure at Kamokuna Ocean Entry

A large section of the 26-acre lava delta formed by the 61g lava flow collapsed into the ocean around 2:45 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, launching showers of volcanic rock into the air, and creating a flurry of large waves that eroded away a portion of the older sea cliff and viewing area.

As a result, the Kamokuna ocean entry within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will remain closed today as park rangers and USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists survey the area. Rangers on duty New Year’s Day reported that the former viewing area is gone, and that loud cracks continue to be heard throughout the unstable area.

Although park rangers temporarily closed the Kamokuna lava viewing area last night, five visitors ducked beneath the white rope closure line and made a beeline for the coastal cliffs around 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Eruption Crew Ranger Travis Delimont and a co-worker had to chase after them before they turned around.  Within 15 minutes, the section of cliff where the visitors were standing crashed into the ocean.

“It was a really close brush with death for them,” Ranger Delimont said. “Luckily, they finally listened to us and turned around in time,” he said.

The lava viewing area will remain closed until it is determined safe to reopen. The County of Hawai‘i also closed the Kalapana access to the park.

“Fortunately, there were no aircraft or boats reported in the area at the time of the collapse, nor were any visitors on the delta itself, which is closed for public safety,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Had anyone been close by on land, water or air, lives would have surely been lost,” she said.

There is a temporary flight restriction of 1,000 feet above ground level at the Kamokuna ocean entry.

Lava deltas are extremely hazardous volcanic features and are formed when lava enters the ocean and builds new land on loose and unstable substrate. In addition to the threat of collapse, lava entering the ocean produces a highly a corrosive plume of hydrochloric acid and volcanic particles that irritate the lungs, skin and eyes. Visitors are strongly urged to stay out of closed areas and heed all posted warning signs.

Holiday Visitation Surges at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Park visitation surges during the holiday travel season and this week is no exception with parking lots at popular destinations like Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube), Jaggar Museum and Kīlauea Visitor Center at capacity.

NPS Photo

And, with Kīlauea erupting from two locations, the park remains a powerful draw for visitors who want to see volcanic activity. As a result, the park is very crowded, especially during peak hours between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.

“We’ve had some visitors wait up to an hour to park, and we have park rangers working in traffic control. We remind everyone to please be patient and treat rangers and other drivers with respect and aloha,” said Chief Ranger John Broward.

Park rangers offer these tips so all visitors have a positive and memorable time in the national park:

  • Plan to arrive early and explore Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) before 9 a.m. Not only is parking available, but the lava tube is often empty of people. Birdwatching at Nāhuku is best in the early morning.
  • Want to hike Kīlauea Iki Trail? This four-mile trek is one of the most scenic and popular trails in the park. Plan to hit the trail by 7 a.m., and be out by 10 a.m.
  • Drive and explore Chain of Craters Road. This historic and scenic road originates at the summit of Kīlauea and stretches 19 miles to Hōlei Sea Arch. Many overlooks, pullouts, and lesser-known hikes (Mauna Ulu, Pu‘uloa Petroglyphs) abound – and it’s an ideal way to avoid the crowds and see more of what the park offers. The Coastal Ranger Station at the end of Chain of Craters Road is the starting point for a 10-mile roundtrip hike to see lava enter the ocean at Kamokuna.
  • Night owl or early riser? The best time to observe the glow from Halema‘uma‘u is before sunrise, or after 9 p.m., when most visitors have left. The park is open 24 hours a day. You can see what Kīlauea is doing before you arrive by checking the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory webcams.
  • Jaggar Museum is the closest visitors can get to the summit eruption’s glowing lava lake, and it’s the park’s most popular spot after 5 p.m. (More than 8,000 people were counted one evening at Jaggar Museum earlier this week.) If you can’t avoid peak hours, consider observing the glow from a less-crowded location, like Keanakāko‘i, ‘Akanikōlea (Steam Vents), or Kīlauea Overlook. From Kīlauea Overlook, it’s a short walk to Jaggar Museum along Crater Rim Trail, but bring a flashlight and a jacket.
  • Mauna Loa Road is well worth exploring during peak hours, especially in good weather. Kīpukapuaulu offers an easy, forested hike, and the views and birdwatching are excellent along the way to the Mauna Loa Overlook at 6,662 feet.
  • Visit Kahuku. Kahuku is free, never crowded, and is open to the public every Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the month. Located on the mauka (inland) side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5 in Ka‘ū.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s January 2017 Events

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park continues its tradition of sharing Hawaiian culture and After Dark in the Park (ADIP) programs with the public throughout 2017.

January is Volcano Awareness Month, and all ADIP programs will be presented by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. ADIP and Hawaiian cultural programs are free, but park entrance fees apply. Programs are co-sponsored by Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association. Mark the calendar for these upcoming events:

34 Years and Counting: Updates on Kīlauea Volcano’s Eruptions. As of Jan. 3, 2017, Kīlauea has been erupting nearly continuously for the past 34 years. It began on the volcano’s East Rift Zone, where Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō continues to send lava flows down the flanks of Kīlauea. In 2008, a second vent opened within Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the summit of Kīlauea, where a spattering lava lake still lights the night sky and captivates spectators.  Tina Neal, Scientist-in-Charge of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, briefly describes the history of these two eruptions and provides in-depth accounts of volcanic activity during the past year, including lava reaching the sea for the first time since 2013 and the rise and fall of the summit lava lake. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.

  • When: Tues., Jan. 3 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

The Unheard Sounds of Hawaiian Volcanoes. Infrasound is atmospheric sound and vibration below the threshold of human hearing. These low-frequency sounds are generated by large-scale fluid flow and can propagate for thousands of kilometers to provide early warning of natural or man-made hazards. Active open-vent volcanoes, such as Kīlauea, are exceptionally good sound emitters, and scientists are steadily building a continuous baseline of volcano-acoustic activity, including infrasonic tremor from Halemaʻumaʻu and Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō.  Join Milton Garces, Director of the University of Hawaiʻi Infrasound Laboratory, as he talks about “listening” to Kīlauea, Mauna Loa, and Hualālai volcanoes through one of the most advanced infrasound networks in the world. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.

  • When: Tues., Jan. 10 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

‘Ukulele Making Demonstration. Join Oral Abihai as he shares his passion for making ‘ukulele from local and exotic woods. A native Hawaiian, Oral has been building ‘ukulele for 10 years, following his apprenticeship in Lāhaina, Maui with master builder Kenny Potts. Oral loves to create ‘ukulele in his spare time with bits and pieces of his wood collection. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.

  • When: Wed., Jan. 11 from 10 a.m. to noon
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai

Trials and Tribulations of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater: 200 Years Old and Still Going. Halema‘uma‘u, the large crater within Kīlauea Volcano’s summit caldera, has a checkered past and an uncertain future. Probably first appearing in the early 19th century, Halemaʻumaʻu has enthralled visitors with its lava lakes, enticed at least three people to their deaths in past decades, and served as a centerpiece for countless photographs and paintings.

Lava lake and flows on Halema‘uma‘u Crater floor in 1968. USGS photo

Don Swanson, a USGS geologist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, traces the volcanic history of Halemaʻumaʻu and includes personal anecdotes about his encounters with the crater during the 1967-68 eruption. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.

  • When: Tues., Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Hula Performance by Hālau I Ka Leo Ola O Nā Mamo. Be immersed in authentic Hawaiian hula presented by Kumu Hula Pelehonuamea and Kumu Hula Kekoa Harman. Hālau I Ka Leo Ola O Nā Mamo is composed of the students of the Hawaiian language immersion school, Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u. These students are all fluent speakers of the Hawaiian language, which is being revived after many years of decline. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing Nā Leo Manu “Heavenly Voices” presentations. Free.

  • When: Wed., Jan. 18 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

How Do HVO Geologists Track Lava Flows and Lava Lakes? Kīlauea is currently home to two remarkably long eruptions. Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō and other vents on the volcano’s East Rift Zone have erupted lava flows for more than three decades. At the summit of Kīlauea, an active vent within Halema‘uma‘u Crater has fed a lava lake for over eight years.  Monitoring each of these eruptions presents unique challenges and requires using various tools and techniques, ranging from low-tech to state-of-the-art. USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Matt Patrick explains the toolkit he uses to map lava flows and measure lava lakes, and describes how scientists continuously improve their methods of tracking volcanic activity. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.

  • When: Tues., Jan. 24 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Ho‘okani ‘Ukulele (Learn to Play ‘Ukulele). Learn the basics of the beloved Hawaiian ‘ukulele. The modern ‘ukulele evolved from the Machete de Braga, a small stringed instrument introduced by Portuguese immigrants in the 1800s. The ‘ukulele is now an iconic part of Hawaiian music culture. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.

  • When: Wed., Jan. 25 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai

An Update on Mauna Loa Activity and Monitoring Efforts. Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano on Earth, has erupted 33 times since 1843, most recently in 1984, when lava flows approached Hilo. Future eruptions could produce high-volume, fast-moving flows that reach the ocean in a matter of hours. In 2015, the Volcano Alert Level of Mauna Loa was elevated from “NORMAL” to “ADVISORY” due to increased seismicity and deformation at the volcano, which continue to occur. USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist Ingrid Johanson provides a brief account of Mauna Loa’s eruptive history, an update on its current status, and an overview of how HVO scientists track activity that might presage the volcano’s next eruption. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.

  • When: Tues., Jan. 31 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Most of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Features Open as Winter Weather Continues in Hawaii

Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) and the Kahuku Unit reopened Saturday, although heavy rainfall persists at times. The snow-cloaked summit of Mauna Loa will remain closed to all day use and overnight camping until it is safe to reopen.

NPS Photo by Janice Wei

NPS Photo by Janice Wei

Nāhuku is open, but the lights are still out. Visitors must bring a flashlight to explore the 300-foot lava tube, which becomes pitch black just a few yards in without light, has uneven flooring, and a low ceiling in some sections. Rangers are stationed at the lava tube to assist visitors during peak hours, and signs are posted.

The park’s Kahuku Unit in Ka‘ū reopened Saturday morning and remained open through Sunday. The 116,000-acre Kahuku Unit is open to the public for hiking and exploring Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The Mauna Loa summit closure is in effect above the Red Hill (Pu‘u‘ula‘ula) Cabin. Hikers can still obtain a backcountry permit to hike to and stay at Red Hill Cabin, but backcountry permits to areas above 10,000 feet are suspended and day hiking is prohibited. Hikers going to Red Hill will be advised during the permit process to proceed with caution and carry appropriate gear.

“The park is open, and we remind visitors to drive with caution and aloha,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Roads are flooded in places, and visitors might encounter fog, additional rain and other inclement weather today and as the week progresses,” she said.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Announces Closures – Thurston Lava Tube Floods

Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) and the Kahuku Unit are closed due to impacts from heavy rainfall and flash flooding. The summit of Mauna Loa remains closed to all day use and overnight camping. Closures remain in effect until it is safe to reopen.

A closure sign at the entrance to Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube)/NPS Photo

A closure sign at the entrance to Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube)/NPS Photo

On Friday, the floor of the lava tube was flooded with rain, and water covered the electrical conduit system. The power was shut off, but visitor access is prohibited until further notice.

The floor of a dark Nāhuku flooded with rainwater Friday afternoon, with the power off./NPS Photo

The floor of a dark Nāhuku flooded with rainwater Friday afternoon, with the power off./NPS Photo

The Kahuku Unit, which is usually open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, was closed for the day on Friday morning due to flooding and a road closure on Highway 11. Staff will reassess conditions Saturday morning, and determine if Kahuku will open for the weekend.

The National Weather Service extended the flash flood warning for Hawai‘i Island Friday afternoon through 5:15 p.m. HST.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the summit of Mauna Loa that remains in effect. Heavy rain and high winds pummeled the 13,677-foot summit, and abundant snow was visible on webcams and at sunset Thursday.

Rainwater ponding along the rainforest trail at Nāhuku. NPS Photo

Rainwater ponding along the rainforest trail at Nāhuku. NPS Photo

The summit closure is in effect above the Red Hill (Pu‘u‘ula‘ula) Cabin. Hikers can still obtain a backcountry permit to hike to and stay at Red Hill Cabin, but backcountry permits to areas above 10,000 feet are suspended and day hiking is prohibited. Hikers going to Red Hill will be advised during the permit process to proceed with caution and carry appropriate gear.

“Park rangers will constantly monitor the roads and destinations within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park during this storm, and additional closures may be warranted,” said Chief Ranger John Broward.

High Winds and Heavy Snow in Hawaii – Mauna Loa Summit Closed

Due to high winds and heavy snow, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park closed the summit of Mauna Loa on Thursday to all day use and overnight camping until it is safe to reopen.

NPS Photo

NPS Photo

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park early Thursday morning. Heavy rain, high winds, and a foot of snow were expected, and by afternoon, a thick blanket of snow was visible as low as 10,000 feet. Visitors at the park’s Jaggar Museum were treated periodically with views of snow-capped Mauna Loa, a novelty for many who don’t expect snow in Hawai‘i.

The summit closure is in effect above the Red Hill (Pu‘u‘ula‘ula) Cabin. Hikers can still obtain a backcountry permit to hike to and stay at Red Hill Cabin, but backcountry permits to areas above 10,000 feet are suspended and day hiking is prohibited. Hikers going to Red Hill will be advised to proceed with caution and carry appropriate gear.

In January 2014, park rangers and a helicopter pilot rescued a backcountry hiker stranded on Mauna Loa in an unexpected blizzard.

Senator Helps Park Rangers Get Every Kid in a Park

Fourth graders on a field trip to the erupting summit of Kīlauea Monday morning received their free Every Kid in a Park pass from a strong supporter of the program: Senator Mazie K. Hirono of Hawai‘i.

Ka‘ū Learning Academy fourth grade students learn about Kīlauea volcano and the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Ka‘ū Learning Academy fourth grade students learn about Kīlauea volcano and the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

The Senator, Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando, and park rangers greeted students from Ka‘ū Learning Academy, a charter school located 41 miles south of Kīlauea, at Kīlauea Overlook. The keiki hiked along Crater Rim Trail with Senator Hirono to the observation deck at Jaggar Museum to learn about the volcano in the backyard, and earn their Every Kid in a Park pass.

The Every in Kid in a Park program is part of President Obama’s commitment to protect our nation’s iconic outdoor spaces and ensure that every American has the opportunity to visit them. This is the second year of the innovative program, which gives fourth graders and those accompanying them, free access to 2,000 public lands and waters nationwide – including Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park – for a whole year.

Fourth graders from Ka‘ū Learning Academy display their free Every Kid in a Park pass at Jaggar Museum. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Fourth graders from Ka‘ū Learning Academy display their free Every Kid in a Park pass at Jaggar Museum. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

“Senator Hirono is a dedicated advocate of education for Hawai‘i youth, and fully embraces Every Kid in a Park,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “The Ka‘ū students who hiked with her today not only met one of Hawai‘i’s senators, but were able to spend quality time outdoors with someone who truly advocates for our keiki and national parks,” Orlando said.

The students took photos with Senator Hirono, and were mesmerized by the surges of lava spattering from a vent within Halema‘uma‘u  Crater, one mile away.

“My favorite thing was seeing the volcano,” said 9-year-old T’rael Pesnell, who took photos of his classmate posing with the eruption behind him.

Senator Hirono also presented the national park with Senate Resolution 541, proclaiming Aug. 1, 2016 as Hawai‘i Volcanoes and Haleakalā National Parks Day, to honor the parks’ centennial anniversaries.

“As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, the Every Kid in a Park program promotes a lifelong appreciation for our environment and natural resources,” said Senator Mazie K. Hirono.

Closeup up view of the Every Kid in a Park pass. NPS Photo

Closeup up view of the Every Kid in a Park pass. NPS Photo

Educators for all grades can learn more about the park’s educational opportunities and curriculum on the park website: https://www.nps.gov/havo/learn /education/index.htm, and by calling the Education Center at (808) 985-6019.

Largest Cat-Proof Fence Built in the U.S. to Protect Hawaiian Birds from Feral Cats

Work is complete on what could be the largest cat-proof fence in the United States, designed to protect the federally endangered ‘ua‘u, or Hawaiian petrel, from the birds’ primary threat: feral cats.

Park staff install the cat-proof fence in rough and rugged high-elevation lava fields on the slopes of Mauna Loa. The five-mile-long fence protects more than 600 acres of Hawaiian petrel habitat, and could be the longest of its kind in the United States. NPS Photo.

Park staff install the cat-proof fence in rough and rugged high-elevation lava fields on the slopes of Mauna Loa. The five-mile-long fence protects more than 600 acres of Hawaiian petrel habitat, and could be the longest of its kind in the United States. NPS Photo.

The seafaring ‘ua‘u nests in deep lava rock burrows on the rugged high-altitude slopes of Mauna Loa, and, despite the remote location, are not safe from cats. In order to protect the species, the National Park Service (NPS) teamed up with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, American Bird Conservatory, Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, and the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit at the University of Hawai‘i (PCSU), to build the five-mile long cat barrier fence in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. The specifically designed barrier is more than six feet high, and has a curved top section that prevents cats from climbing over it.

Construction began in 2013, and was limited to January through May to avoid disturbing nesting birds. The seabirds spend most of their lives at sea, and come to land only during breeding season. ‘Ua‘u return to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park briefly in April to prepare nest sites, and return in early June to lay a single egg. The fluffy chicks hatch in August and remain in their burrows until November when they fledge or take their first flight out to sea. Adults, eggs and chicks are extremely vulnerable to predators throughout the long breeding season as all activity occurs on the ground.

Cat-proof fence aerial/Courtesy of Scott Hall/NFWF

Cat-proof fence aerial/Courtesy of Scott Hall/NFWF

The high-altitude project was grueling. NPS and PCSU fence crews worked and camped at elevations between 8,000 and 10,000 feet, in steep and loose lava rock terrain, and in weather that ranged from hail, and high wind, to extreme heat. The site is very remote and all materials, gear and staff had to be flown in and out. But the discomfort paid off: the fence now protects more than 600 acres of ‘ua‘u nesting habitat on Mauna Loa.

“To our knowledge, this is the largest fence of its kind in the U.S. To build such a fence is an incredible feat, and an important victory for a native species that is extremely rare on Hawai‘i Island,” said NPS biologist Kathleen Misajon. “Through the partnership of the cooperating organizations, the cat-proof fence will protect these amazing seabirds and support the expansion of this small population,” she said.

The endangered Hawaiian petrels are more typically seen on neighbor islands. The species is very rare on Hawai‘i Island, with just 75 nesting pairs in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and another small population on the slopes of Kohala. The park and cooperating partner agencies have studied this remnant population of ‘ua‘u on Mauna Loa since the early 1990s, both on the ground and more recently, through remote game cameras. The birds only come and go at night, nest in deep cracks and crevices in the lava, and are rarely seen.

Both parents take turns incubating a single egg and later, feeding the chick. They fly from high atop Mauna Loa to forage in the Pacific Ocean, ranging as far north as Washington State before returning to the nest to feed their chick.

For more information on ‘ua‘u on Mauna Loa, watch this six-minute video on the park website: https://www.nps.gov/media/video/view.htm?id=A718E6AF-B4CB-8719-5F489DE87AE57E25

Explosions at Volcano Summit – More Reminders Why Halemaʻumaʻu Crater Area is Closed

Two explosions in as many days were triggered by rocks falling into Kīlauea Volcano’s summit lava lake.

hvo-102116The event shown above occurred around 12:26 p.m., HST, yesterday (Thursday, October 20). The other explosion happened around 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday, October 19. Both events are reminders why the area around Halemaʻumaʻu Crater remains closed to the public.

hvo-102116aYesterday’s explosion, triggered by a rockfall from the south-southeast wall of the summit vent within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, blasted spatter (molten lava) and rock fragments on to the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, as well as on to the closed section of Crater Rim Drive, about a quarter-mile from the vent.

hvo-102116bFollowing yesterday’s explosion, spatter (bit of molten lava) and fragments of solid rock littered this closed section of Crater Rim Drive in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. This section of the road, adjacent to the former Halemaʻumaʻu Crater parking area, has been closed since 2008 due to elevated sulfur dioxide emissions and other ongoing volcanic hazards, such as today’s rockfall-triggered explosion.

hvo-102116cSpatter and “ribbon bombs” (stretched fragments of molten lava) up to 30 cm (about 12 inches) long fell to the ground surface on the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater during the two most recent explosions from Kīlauea’s summit lava lake. The black, glassy lava fragment shown here, about the size of a standard donut, landed amidst smaller, solid pieces of rock blasted from the vent.

A marking pen is shown for scale to indicate the size of this solid rock fragment hurled from the vent during the explosion.

A marking pen is shown for scale to indicate the size of this solid rock fragment hurled from the vent during the explosion.

A close-up of spatter and rock fragments blasted from the summit vent during the recent explosions.

hvo-102116e

These pieces of rock and lava, now scattered among the Pele’s hair that blankets the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, remind us of the hazards that still exist in this area.

 

Tips for Safe and Easy Lava Lake Viewing in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Visitors and local residents gather nightly at the Jaggar Museum observation deck in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park to watch the lava lake spatter and glow within the summit crater of Kīlauea volcano, vying for the best parking spot and vantage point.

Daytime viewing of the lava lake activity has been exceptional. Photo taken from Jaggar Museum observation deck on Friday, 9/9/16. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

Daytime viewing of the lava lake activity has been exceptional. Photo taken from Jaggar Museum observation deck on Friday, 9/9/16. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

The lava within Halema‘uma‘u Crater recently became visible for the first time since May 2015, and rangers have been busy directing vehicles at Jaggar Museum from 5 p.m. until well after dark, often sending people to park at Kīlauea Overlook, about 1/3 of a mile away.

Park rangers share the following tips for an optimal viewing experience:

  • Avoid the busy times, and visit the lava lake during the day. Or come after 9 p.m. The park is open 24 hours a day.
  • Be mindful of air quality. Hazardous volcanic gas and particulates can drift over the summit area in light or southerly winds. These gases are a danger to all, especially people with heart or respiratory problems,      young children and pregnant women. Kīlauea Visitor Center offers updates on air quality 24 hours a day, and visitors can monitor the Hawai‘i SO2 network website.
  • Be prepared to hike a 1/3 of a mile each way between Kīlauea Overlook and Jaggar Museum on Crater Rim Trail. Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes, bring rain gear, water, binoculars, a flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Carpool if possible to reduce the number of vehicles in the parking areas.
  • Monitor the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) webcams. The KI camera provides a panoramic view of Halema‘uma‘u Crater from HVO, near Jaggar Museum.

In addition, air quality is poor at the coast where another eruption from Kīlauea enters the ocean at the Kamokuna site. Park rangers have roped off sections downwind of the ocean entry and have placed signs warning about toxic fume clouds which contain sulfur dioxide, volcanic particulates, and hydrochloric acid near the coast.

To stay upwind of the fumes, it is currently best to hike in from the County of Hawai‘i lava viewing area on the Kalapana side to access the ocean entry in the park. The Kalapana access is open daily from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s about a 4.2-mile hike from the Kalapana boundary to the ocean entry viewing point, one way, along the gravel emergency access road.