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AAA World | National Parks | Western States


All photos by Eric Lindberg

Home of two of the world’s most active volcanoes—Kīlauea and Mauna Loa—Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, nestled along the southeastern shore of Hawaii’s Big Island, extends from sea level to 13,677 feet. The park’s 505 square miles cover seven ecological zones: coast, lowland, mid-elevation woodland, rain forest, upland forest, subalpine and alpine, each with its own flora and fauna. While Mauna Loa seethes with steam and hot lava, you’ll still want to be prepared for the change in temperature from the balmy beach to the chilly top.


Begin your visit at the Kīlauea Visitor Center. Here, park rangers can provide history, trail guidance and maps. Follow Crater Rim Drive, which circles Kīlauea Caldera when the road is not blocked by lava flows, to Devastation Trail and several scenic overlooks. When hiking, be sure to stay on the marked routes.


If you are thinking of accommodations on the Big Island, check out the town of Hilo, which is only about 45 minutes from the park. The drive from Kona can take approximately three hours.


While stunning in both its scenic and biological diversity, the land within the park is considered sacred by many Hawaiians and should be treated with respect.