If you’re planning your summer vacation around a trip to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, home to the capricious Kīlauea Volcano, you’re in good company! It seems that Madam Pele has decided on a destination for her summer vacation and announced her return to the park yesterday morning.
Madam Pele, however, is a bit whimsical and there is no way to predict how long her stay at Kīlauea will last (it could only be for a few days!!!) and when she will return again. As such, we suggest planning a visit to Volcano, Hawai’i sooner than later.
Ready to find out about the latest eruption and how to plan a trip to safely enjoy this spectacular experience? Keep reading!
The Latest Eruption in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
According to scientists, the current eruption began the evening of Tuesday, June 6, 2023, with an increase in earthquake activity and ground deformation at Kīlauea’s summit that alerted them to magma movement in the subsurface. By 4:44 am on June 7th, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) detected a glow in the summit webcam images confirming that there is indeed an eruption within Halemaʻumaʻu crater!
At this point, the lava contained within the summit and within the crater itself is visible on the crater floor. HVO reports that no homes or infrastructure are threatened, and will closely monitor volcanic activity and provide updates.
Where to Best View Kīlauea’s Eruption
As lava fills Halemaʻumaʻu crater, we expect the parking spots at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park to fill up! Delays due to high visitation are to be expected, but don’t let that deter you from what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see an erupting volcano! You can view Kīlauea’s eruption by hiking to one of the popular viewing areas from a less congested parking lot or visiting at an unconventional time. Here are a few viewing areas to consider when planning your visit:
1. Watch Lava Plates be Dragged Into the Lake from Kūpinaʻi Pali
You can reach Kūpinaʻi Pali (Waldron Ledge) from Crater Rim Trail. Start by parking at Kīlauea Visitor Center then walk across Crater Rim Drive and head south on Crater Rim Trail. From two miles away, lava is visible as crust from the active lake surface is dragged back into the lake. At night, you can’t miss the glow!
2. Witness the Red Glow of Lava Fountains at Uēkahuna
You can see the eruption from 1 mile away by parking at Uēkahuna or Kīlauea Overlook. From there, walk 500 feet over mostly paved terrain to the east of Uēkahuna Overlook or head 1000 feet over moderate terrain to the west of Kīlauea Overlook. A sliver of the lava lake’s surface is occasionally visible from here. You may be treated to the sight of spewing fountains and you’ll definitely witness the scarlet glow from this overlook come nightfall.
3. See Lava Fountains From Keanakākoʻi Crater
This is the most popular viewing area and with good reason! From the overlook near Keanakākoʻi Crater you’ll see fountains shooting lava from the lake into the air and an otherworldly red glow when the sun goes down. Start at the Devastation Trail parking area and walk 2 miles round-trip over mostly paved terrain. Be aware that the last section of the trail is over an uneven surface of loose rocky cinders, but it’s only for 300 yards. As the Devastation Trail will get you as close as a half mile from the eruption and parking at the trailhead is limited, delays are possible. If you choose to see the lava fountains from Keanakākoʻi Crater, plan your trip after 9 pm or visit a few hours before sunrise.
Where NOT to Go
There’s a reason for the closures marked by rope lines and hazard signs in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. They’re there to protect everyone from unpredictable and sudden rim collapses, potentially lethal volcanic fumes, and hidden cracks in the earth, to name a few. No matter what, do NOT go into closed areas! This includes Mauna Loa Trail, as well as the summit cabin and wilderness area above Red Hill Cabin, which are closed as a result of hazards from Kīlauea’s current eruption.
When to Go
Since the park is open 24 hours a day, you can visit any time. But we’ve found the best to visit Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park during an eruption is before 9 am in the morning or after 9 pm at night. If you plan your trip for sunset, be prepared for long lines and limited parking. Trust us, the most magical time to behold Pele at work is long after the sun has set.
Photo courtesy of NPS Photo/J.Wei
What to Bring
Be prepared for your visit to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park with the essentials. This should include water and a snack since there’s a good chance you will be so enamored with erupting Kīlauea that you stay longer than you planned to. Always wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes and carry a headlamp if you plan on visiting the eruption at night. And don’t forget your rain jacket.
Pack a mask in case of westerly or southerly wind that can blow around hazardous volcanic gas. This is especially important for infants, young children, pregnant women, and anyone with heart or respiratory problems. If you have concerns about gas emissions, especially during the first few days of activity, you can check the air quality before your visit.
Above all, pack your patience and respect! While there’s no doubt that an eruption is exciting to witness, please be respectful of the fact that here in Hawai’i, the summit of Kīlauea volcano is a wahi kapu (sacred landscape).
And while it may take you a while to get a parking spot and walk to a viewing area, be patient – It will absolutely be worth it!
Photo courtesy of NPS Photo/J.Wei
Plan Your Visit to Volcano, Hawaii
An influx of visitors is expected to make their way to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park over the next few days and weeks. Whether you’re driving over from another corner of the Big Island or flying in from another island or the mainland, it’s best to book your lodging immediately. If you want to stay near all that Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park has to offer, you really can’t get much closer than the Volcano Heritage Cottages. Located in the heart of Volcano Village, Hawai’i, our cottages are only five minutes from the park, so book your stay at Tutu’s Place or the Ola’a House today and seize this chance to see the spectacular eruption of Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes!