What Not to Miss in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island in Hawaii Video
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Video:Tour Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

with John Fischer

See the best vantage points, sites, and stops in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island in Hawaii.See Transcript

Transcript:Tour Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hi, I'm John Fischer, your Guide to Hawaii for Visitors at About.com.

Volcanoes National Park Location

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is located on the Big Island of Hawaii, 30 miles or 45 minutes from Hilo on the east coast and 96 miles or 2 to 2 1/2 hours from Kailua Kona on the west coast.

Entering Volcanoes National Park

Located near the park entrance is the Kilauea Visitor Center - a good place to start your visit. Here you can view exhibits about the park, a film, learn about current eruption activity or take a short guided walk with one of the park rangers.

Walking in Volcanoes National Park

Your walk will take you across Crater Rim Drive to the very edge of Kilauea Caldera within which is the pit crater of Halema'uma'u. From beneath this caldera lava begins its flow towards the ocean.

Staying in Volcanoes National Park

Constructed at the edge of Kilauea Crater, the historic Volcano House offers the only public accommodation and dining facility in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Across Crater Rim Drive near the Visitor Center sits the original 1877 Volcano House, moved from its original location and since 1974 serving as home to the Volcano Art Gallery.

Volcano Steam

Driving counterclockwise on Crater Rim Drive from the Visitors Center your first stop should be the Steam Vents. Here rainwater sinks through the ground and is warmed by rocks which carry heat from the lava below. Hot water then rises through fissures to condense in the chilled air.

Volcanoes and Vantage Points in the Park

Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park encompasses over 300,000 acres and ranges from sea level to the summit of the earth's most massive volcano, Mauna Loa and seen here on the horizon.

Your next stop should be at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Jaggar Museum. It sits right on the edge of the rim of Kilauea Caldera and the views are outstanding. The observatory is managed by the U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Park Service.

The Jaggar Museum contains numerous exhibits that explain the history and behavior of Hawaiian volcanoes.

Craters in Volcanoes National Park

Three miles further is the Halema'uma'u Crater Overlook. It is about a 10 minute walk from the parking area. Just follow the crowds. As you stand at the crater's edge you are looking into the home of Madame Pele, Goddess of Hawaiian Volcanoes. The crater is about 3,000 feet across and almost 300 feet deep.

The Halema'uma'u Crater expels about 300 tons of sulfur dioxide daily both within the crater and along the rim. Those with breathing or heart problems should avoid this area.

A highlight of any visit to Volcanoes National Park is a drive down the Chain of Craters Road to see current volcanic activity. The road descends to the coast and ends near where the lava has crossed it. Park along the road before the small ranger station. From here it's about a mile walk to the area where you can see the lava entering the ocean.

The walk is well worth it.

A trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a visit to Hawaii's ancient volcanic past as well as a look at the present and future of the Big Island of Hawaii as it is given birth by Madame Pele.

Thanks for watching. To learn more about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, join us on the Web at Gohawaii.About.com.
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