Hawaii Volcano Blog

Portion of Thurston Lava Tube, Trail to Close Temporarily

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The bridge entrance to Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) is one of the most popular, and most photographed, destinations in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS photo/Janice Wei

Portions of Thurston Lava Tube (Nāhuku) and its rainforest loop trail will close for approximately two weeks starting Sept. 5, 2017, while Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park maintenance workers replace the electrical conduit and lighting system.

During the repairs, visitors will be able to explore the open section of the lava tube—one of the most popular destinations in the park.

Visitors are advised to bring their own light source (cell phone lights are adequate).

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The nearby restrooms will remain open.

The new energy-efficient lighting system will simultaneously increase visitor safety by illuminating the interior and protect the cultural integrity of the ‘ana (cave) by inhibiting the growth of non-native plant species.

The back portion of Nāhuku will close first, including the stairs leading out of the lava tube and the north section of rainforest trail.

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Visitors will be able to access the front section of the lava tube via the bridge entrance and return the same way.

Once work is complete in the back portion, work on the front section will start and visitors can access the rear portion of Nāhuku via the north trail and stairs.

Thurston Lava Tube and its lush rainforest trail are popular features in the park, located near the summit of Kīlauea Volcano off Crater Rim Drive. The lava tube was formed by a vigorous stream of magma that erupted from Kīlauea and crusted over about 550 years ago. When the magma source was exhausted, a long, hollow tunnel was left behind. The native rainforest surrounding Nāhuku is managed by the park as a Special Ecological Area, and is home to endemic plant, bird and insect species. Visitation is heaviest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and parking is limited to 30 minutes.

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