Volcano National Park – Hawaii

This entry is part [part not set] of 18 in the series American National Parks

This past summer we visited Craters of the Moon National Monument where we saw very similar geology and landscape.

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Craters of the Moon National Monument in Central Idaho. Very similar to parts of Volcano National park- Just not the Hawaii part.

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Further down the chain of craters road we came across some overlooks that gave us a great view of Hiiaka Crater.

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We didn’t have time to hike down into the crater but we could see several people hiking down there.

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As you continue down towards the ocean on the Chain of Craters  there is an overlook near the ridge. Where the terrain drops off quickly.

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We were in and out of the clouds on the upper part of the road. Here is a view from Kealakomo overlook. In clear weather there is a dramatic view. The terrain drops off rapidly as you continue down towards the ocean.

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It was a cloudy day when we visited but you can still see the dramatic drop towards the ocean.
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Flows on top of flows. Different color and textures of lava

The closer we got to the ocean, the better the weather got. The landscape changed a lot as well. Lots and lots of lava flows and very little vegetation. This is a fascinating area. Lava flows have wiped out homes and vegetation. As the lava cools and breaks down, new growth starts popping up in the the cracks and gaps in the lava.

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Older lava with cracks developing
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Here you can see an older section of lava flow with denser vegetation.

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Vegetation growing in a fold in the lava.

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As you get to the ocean the road turns towards the east. Many people have seen the pictures of the lava flows that covered and blocked the road. Unfortunately, the park service blocks the road well before you get to that point. It is quite a long walk if you want to see that.

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Photo – Lava flow blocking road
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Photo – Lava blocking road

This is what you will see at the end of the road.

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Contrary to some websites and literature I have seen, there are some basic services available at this road block. There are restrooms and vendors selling refreshments.

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This is a rugged shoreline and well worth visiting.

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The next couple of photos are views looking back up the Chain of Craters Road from the shoreline.

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Keep in mind the Volcano National Park reaches from this shoreline all the way to the summit of Mauna Loa and large sections of Mauna Loa as well. The picture below is Mauna Loa from the north side taken from the road up Mauna Kea.

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Captain Dan’s Tips

If you are planning a visit to the Volcano National Park, we recommend spending at least one night on that side of the island so you can see all that the park offers. We recommend a small boutique hotel just down the road from the park on the road to south point.

Kalaekilohanna is a top rated hotel and puts you near to many of the attractions that are so far from many of the resort area on the west coast of the island.

Another good option for you is the town of Volcano Village. You will not find a chain hotel there. We had an unfortunate situation where we booked a room online and had a conformation # but were turned away by the hotel as they did not receive the reservation from the online site. Maybe a call to confirm a reservation would prevent a situation like this.

The weather is all over the map on this part of the island so dress in layers. You most likely will go from cold and wet to sunny and hot during your visit.


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About Dan Ashbach 792 Articles
Meet the Dan behind Dan330. He started a Pinterest account in December 2011 while off on a leave from his day job as a captain on an Airbus A330. While traveling the world, Dan practiced his longtime hobby of photography and developed his eye for natural beauty and appreciation of great photography. Continuing his love of exploration and great pictures, Dan added Pinterest to his daily routine; especially during the long Minnesota winters. His eye for great photography was recognized by the Pinterest community and in just under one year, Dan330 had attracted over one million followers. Dan and his wife Laurie have three children, seven grandchildren and two grand puppies. When not pinning, Dan loves to travel and participate in just about any outdoor activity. There are a few exceptions to this, but to find out what they are you have to go to the Dan330 board dedicated to “Things he won’t do”.