After a long 134 days, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has reopened. This closure sets an unprecedented record for the longest in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park history. The national park has made a strong comeback after lava flows and activity from Kilauea disturbed the park.
Kilauea is considered to be one of the most active volcanoes in the world; it has erupted twice in the past ten years. NASA has said the Kilauea Volcano is strikingly similar to the Prometheus volcano on Jupiter’s moon, which is the most volcanically active area in our solar system. To put things in perspective, Kilauea is 300,000 to 600,000 years old and emerged above sea level around 100,000 years ago.
Over 700 homes were destroyed after the 1,000 earthquakes and 62 collapse explosions. The natural disaster damaged much of the park including roads, sewage, and water lines. The website lets visitors know “there is no molten lava or lava glow to see anywhere in or out of the park.”
Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said Kilauea has never destroyed this man homes in such a small time window. This eruption is the largest since, at least, Mount St. Helens in Washington in 1980.
A lot of the park’s attractions have drastically changed. The lava lake in Halemaumau Crater has drained, and there is no more active lava within the park. This doesn’t necessarily take away from the appeal of the massive crater; it has grown substantially after multiple collapses on its crater walls.
Park officials encourage tourists to visit the Volcano House for the best vantage point of Halemaumau Crater. Officials have also said the Chain of Craters Road can still be driven in its entirety, allowing you to capture the aftermath of recent flows of hot liquid magma.
KapohoKine Adventures announced visitors of the park can now explore two new tours that they are offering. “Expect to see a dramatically different Kilauea Caldera that now showcases a new, massive 1,000-plus-foot-deep crater that just recently held a lava lake. The anticipation of what will be discovered will vary daily as the park continues to reopen in phases based on infrastructure conditions.”
The company said will allow its visitors to be “among the first in the world to witness the power of the volcano and what it means to the people of Hawaii.” The new adventures include helicopter tours, ziplining, Hawaiian BBQs, wine tasting and boat tours of the lava.
Ingrid Johanson, a research geophysicist for the U.S. Geological Survey, told the Associated Press “The changes we’ve seen at the summit are much more dramatic than anything that’s happened in the last 200 years. I think people are going to be really awestruck when they see it.”
Officials noted that not all of the park had been reopened. However, many historical landmarks are trails are once again open to the public. These locations include:
- Chain of Craters Road
- Crater Rim Drive to Keanakāko‘i Crater (for pedestrians and cyclists only)
- Crater Rim Drive to Steam Vents
- Crater Rim Trail between Volcano House and Kilauea Military Camp
- Devastation Trail and Pu‘u Pua‘i
- Escape Road (sections) from Highway 11
- Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association store at Kīlauea Visitor Center
- Kīlauea Iki Overlook and parking lot
- Kīlauea Visitor Center
- Mauna Loa Road to Kīpukapuaulu (with paths past Kīpukapuaulu only open to pedestrians and cyclists)
- Sulphur Banks Trail
Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando said, “It was a picture-perfect day, and our hearts are filled with joy to see our visitors and community return to their park,” said “We thank everyone for their patience, support, and understanding during the last 134 days.”
The staff will continue its diligent efforts to repair the damages while the park resumes to its standard 24-hour operations. For more information on what’s closed what’s open, visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park website.