Do you plan on taking a trip to Hawaii soon? One of the best things to do is to journey through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. Visitors can see the largest volcano in the world as well as the tallest (even taller than Mount Everest!). Additionally, the park features seven ecological zones, making one feel as if they’ve reached another planet. Before your trip, read up on mind-blowing Hawaii Volcanoes National Park facts below.
1) Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was formerly a part of Hawaii National Park, which was established in 1916.
2) The park encompasses 505 square miles.
3) The park includes two active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea, 25 miles apart.
4) The park was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.
5) Mauna Loa is the Earth’s largest volcano and exceeds Mount Everest in height. The shield volcano’s bulk extends upward about 3 miles from the ocean bottom and then rises to an elevation of 13,677 feet above sea level. Further, its summit caldera is about 2 by 3 miles in diameter and 600 feet deep!
6) Mauna Loa covers half of the island in the south central area and has erupted three dozen times since its first documented eruption in 1843. However, it’s been active for nearly 700,000 years. Its most recent eruption was in 1984, following earthquake activity beneath the volcano.
7) Kilauea stands east of Mauna Loa and is considered the world’s most active volcano. The Halema’uma’u Crater, located within the shield volcano’s caldera, is the volcano’s most active vent.
8) Kilauea is Hawaii’s youngest volcano.
9) In 2018, one volatile eruption from Kilauea sent a plume of volcanic ash about 30,000 feet into the air. The month-long eruption destroyed hundreds of homes and collapsed approximately 2,000 feet of the crater’s summit before the eruption settled. Additionally, the Jaggar Museum of Volcanology was severely damaged by the earthquakes that triggered the eruption, and the museum will not likely reopen any time soon. The park was then closed for 134 days.
10) The park contains seven ecological zones: coast, lowland, mid-elevation woodland, rain forest, upland forest, subalpine, and alpine. Each harbors unique native plant and animal species, including about 60 threatened and endangered species.
11) The Ka‘ū Desert within the park is a region of unusual lava formations in the rain shadow of Kilauea.
12) Mauna Loa Trail winds its way to Mauna Loa’s peak from Kilauea.
13) The national park features a tree fern forest, which receives nearly 100 inches of rainfall annually.
14) Those interested in diverse plant and bird species will take delight in winding through Kipuka Puaulu, or Bird Park, northwest of Kilauea. Kipuka Puaulu presents a nature trail that leads visitors from a grassy meadow with various species of trees such as madani, kola, and soapberry to an open forest with numerous kinds of native trees. Aside from tropical birds, visitors may also see introduced wildlife such as mongooses, wild goats and pigs, pheasant, and quail.
15) Guests can sometimes see a fantastical viewing of lava pouring into the ocean, a phenomenon that resembles fireworks.
16) The Union Nations considers the national park a World Heritage site and an international biosphere.
17) Guests can take two easy access routes via car to the park’s main attractions. Crater Rim Drive curves along the edge of Kilauea Caldera, taking visitors to viewpoints where visitors can look into the crater and inhale the sharp sulfur scent. However, some sections of the road remain closed after the 2018 eruption. Additionally, guests can visit the Visitor Center to see exhibits and important safety information, as well as the film Born of the Fire, Born of the Sea.
18) Built in 1846, the Volcano House stands as one of the oldest lodges in the National Park System.
19) The Volcano Art Center, across the road from the Volcano House, showcases classes and workshops, a gallery for local artists, hula performers, and free guided hikes into the Niaulani Rainforest.
20) Guests can take Chain of Craters Road, which traverses 20 miles through volcanic landforms between Kilauea Caldera and Holei Sea Arch. While driving, you’ll see several areas worthy of interrupting the drive. Visitors can see the lofty Kealakomo Overlook and the otherworldly Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu lava field. Further, a boardwalk trail leads to the Pu‘u Loa Petroglyphs, where native Hawaiians carved more than 23,000 images between 1200 and 1450.
21) Since Kilauea’s eruption began in 1983, more than 500 acres of new land have been added to Hawaii.
22) To reach the summit of Mauna Loa takes about four days for most visitors, as a paved road takes visitors to a lookout point at 6,662 feet that then leads to a 16-mile trail of woodland and lava rock. National park mountain huts are available for overnight stays.
23) The Kau Desert Trail offers 18 miles of rugged terrain that leads from the trailhead off of Highway 11 across surging lava fields to Hilina Pali Cliffs and campsites along the coast.
24) The Mauna National Natural Landmark serves as the highest insular mountain in the nation at 13,803 feet as well as the highest point in Hawaii. Visitors can stargaze at the peak thanks to The Onizuka Center for International Astronomy.
*Facts are taken from Encyclopedia Brittanica, National Geographic, and the National Parks Service
Now that you know the top Hawaii Volcanoes National Park facts, you’re ready to experience thrilling adventures throughout the park. For the best hotel and attractions savings during your trip, head to Tripster Hawaii.
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