Thousands Visit HVNP After Unprecedented 134-Day Closure
Smiling rangers welcomed visitors back to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, after its closing May 11 due to unprecedented volcanic activity.
Earthquakes and collapse-explosion events at Kīlauea’s Summit threatened public safety and damaged park roads, waterlines, buildings and trails.
Several thousand people enjoyed the park under clear blue skies and cool trade winds over the weekend (an official head count wasn’t immediately available).
‘Ōhi‘a, a part quarter-horse, and Clyde the mule greeted visitors on the lawn of Kīlauea Visitor Center.
“It was a picture-perfect day and our hearts are filled with joy to see our visitors and community return to their park,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We thank everyone for their patience, support and understanding during the last 134 days.”
Rangers opened the park several hours ahead of schedule. The first vehicle—local Hilo residents—came in at 7 a.m.
An unexpected aspect of the opening included the completion of repairs to the drinking water supply throughout the park.
Volcano House is welcoming guests into the common areas and retail spaces. And restoration of water will allow the reopening of Volcano House’s Rim Restaurant and Uncle George’s Lounge ahead of the mid-October timeline. Reservations for Oct. 6 and beyond are now being accepted.
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will now resume its normal 24-hour-a-day operation. Many areas of the park that are open, but parts of the park will remain closed until further damage assessments and repairs can be made.
Visitors are reminded to heed all warning signs, listen to rangers and keep safe.
“Here on Crater Rim Drive, visitors can go out to Steam Vents—that’s sort of the end of the line,” said HVNP Public Affairs Officer Jessica Ferracane. “You need to turn around there, but you’re going to get stupendous views of Halema‘uma‘u Crater, the astonishing changes that have taken place there and Kīlauea Caldera….”
Crater Rim Trail, which runs from Volcano House along the edge to Steam Vents, is open and offers extraordinary views of the caldera.
“We also ask that if people are out in these areas, remember Kīlauea is a very, very sacred place to Native Hawaiians and others,” explained Ferracane. “Halema‘uma‘u is the traditional home of Pele Honua Mea, the volcano goddess. So we ask that you bring your respect, your reverence and maybe a quiet frame of mind when you’re out near the crater edge where people are really taking in these astonishing changes and this amazing cultural place.”
For more information and to learn about the new hazards—including sink holes and earth cracks created by tens of thousands of earthquakes that preceded the opening—visit the park website.
HVNP Sets Goal to Reopen