HVNP Increases Community Access to Mauna Loa Road
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is increasing community access, following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local public health authorities.
The National Park Service (NPS) is working service-wide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.
As of May 20, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park reopened access to:
- Mauna Loa Road to Kīpukapuaulu for vehicles, bicyclists and hikers, including Tree Molds. The picnic area will remain closed.
- Mauna Loa Road past Kīpukapuaulu is open for hikers and bicyclists to Mauna Loa Overlook at 6,662 feet, but is closed to vehicles.
- Footprints Trail from Highway 11 to the Ka‘ū Desert Trail and Mauna Iki Trail junction, including the Footprints shelter (1.9 miles one way).
- Escape Road, for bicycling, horseback riding and hiking to the Mauna Ulu junction.
With public health in mind, all other areas in the park remain closed at this time. Commercial and special use permits continue to be suspended.
“We have completed thorough risk assessments for the continued safety of our staff and the public, and while we are excited to increase access in areas of the park that allow for social distancing in an outdoor, open-air environment, we are urging each person to be safe to keep us all safe,” said Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Acting Superintendent Rhonda Loh. “If people cannot adhere to the latest health guidelines for their protection and ours, the park may have to close these areas again.”
While these areas are accessible for the public to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. Park users should follow local area health orders from Gov. David Ige, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and high-risk outdoor activities.
The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Park officials say they will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19, and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.
Park officials say the health and safety of park users, employees, volunteers, and partners continue to be paramount. At Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, the operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored.