Tips for successful lava viewing
The narrow streams of lava that reached the ocean last weekend are flowing several hundred yards outside of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s easternmost boundary, over private land closer to Kalapana.
Park officials do not encourage hikers to the flow from the end of Chain of Craters Road. The trek is an extremely arduous and grueling hike over hardened lava at least 10 miles round trip.
“The best and closest place to observe a volcanic eruption within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at present is from Jaggar Museum overlook, and other vantage points at the summit of Kilauea that provide views of Halema‘uma‘u Crater,” said Chief Ranger Talmadge Magno.
During daylight, the robust plume of volcanic gas is a constant and dramatic reminder of the molten rock churning in a lava lake approximately 100 feet beneath the crater floor. After sunset, Halema‘uma‘u continues to thrill visitors and park staff with a vivid glow that illuminates the clouds and the plume as it billows into the night sky.
The park has increased staffing at Jaggar Museum to assist the many visitors drawn to Halema‘uma‘u, which has been erupting consistently since the crater became active again in March 2008.
Nevertheless, hundreds of visitors venture to the end of Chain of Craters Road, hoping to hike out to the coastal flow originating from Pu‘u ‘O‘o vent in the remote East Rift Zone, not realizing the distance or hazards involved.
“We don’t want people to be disappointed, and we especially don’t want people to get hurt,” Magno said. “While the historic flows covering the end of Chain of Craters Road are well worth a visit during the day, hiking all the way out to the ocean entry from the park side and leaving the park to cross private party isn’t something we recommend,” he said.
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