Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Is Reopening This Weekend, but It Won't Be Quite the Same

After months of anticipation, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park will reopen to the public on Saturday, Sept. 22.

While the park is reopening many trails and key attractions, it will be missing one of the elements that has made it so famous over the years — its lava.

Most of the park closed on Friday, May 11 as a result of eruptions and seismic activity at the summit of Kīlauea. The natural disaster depleted the lava lake inside the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater and the lava flows from Puʻu ʻŌʻō. 

“There is no molten lava or lava glow to see anywhere in or out of the park,” the park’s website warns.

The changes mark the first time in years the park has no lava for visitors to see, according to park representatives, though there are several famed trails and locations open to explore again.

These include the Crater Rim Trail between Volcano House and the Kilauea Military Camp, the Sulphur Banks Trail, the Kīlauea Iki Overlook, Devastation Trail, portions of the Crater Rim Drive to the Keanakāko’i Crater (open to pedestrians and cyclists only), the Mauna Loa Road, the Chain of Craters Road, sections of the Escape Road from Highway 11, the Kīlauea Visitor Center, and the Hawaii Pacific Parks Association store at the visitor center.

Sept. 22 also marks National Public Lands Day, meaning visitors will get free entrance into the park. 

Those planning to visit will want to head to the park early (opening time is 10 a.m.), as representatives say to expect heavy traffic and lengthier lines as parking around the summit has been reduced by a third. 

Visitors should use safety precautions including avoiding hiking at night or on closed trails, hiking with at least one other person as the park is dotted with open holes that can often be covered by vegetation, staying away from cliff edges to avoid potential rockfalls in the still-fragile area, and wearing protective eyewear as whirlwinds of ash can still arise in locations like the Kaʻū Desert.

Visitors will also want to bring at least two quarts of drinking water per person, as the water in the park is still unsafe to drink at this time, along with snacks and a full tank of gas for those who are driving. 

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