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HVNP Reopens Uēkahuna Bluff

June 9, 2021, 9:41 AM HST
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Uēkahuna bluff, a cliff top at the summit of Kīlauea volcano in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, has reopened to the public.

A half-mile of Crater Rim Drive and Crater Rim Trail west of Kīlauea Overlook to the Uēkahuna bluff parking lot have also reopened. Additionally, public restrooms near the former Jaggar Museum site and a half-mile section of trail connecting Nāmakanipaio Campground to Uēkahuna, also reopened this morning.

“We are so pleased to welcome the community and visitors back to Uēkahuna, one of the most remarkable and revered sites in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park,” said Superintendent Rhonda Loh. “Data from multiple post-disaster assessments indicate the areas do not pose an immediate risk as long as people stay on trail and stay away from the cliff edges. The National Park Service will continue to closely monitor the area, and respond as necessary to any changes.”

Uēkahuna closed in 2018 when magma drained from Halemaʻumaʻu, the summit crater, triggering months of repetitive earthquakes, damaging ash clouds and the eventual collapse of Kīlauea summit. A section of Crater Rim Drive dropped into the crater and park buildings, roads and infrastructure were badly damaged. The volcanic events of 2018 are the most destructive in Hawaiʻi in at least two centuries, park officials stated.

As the 2018 volcanic eruption changed the landscape, it also changed the views seen at Uēkahuna. From the bluff, hikers can see the giant fractures that cleaved the crater floor, the newly exposed yellow sulfur bank to the east and the gaping chasm which is now Halemaʻumaʻu.

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Across Kaluapele, the steaming crater, the faded centerline from the fallen road can be seen. On a clear day, the slopes of Mauna Loa are visible.

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The National Park Service invested significant effort into making the trails and Uēkahuna safe to reopen. Workers installed post and cable railing between Kīlauea Overlook to the west of the former Jaggar Museum to keep people away from hazards like undercut edges, earth cracks and sinkholes, and for resource protection.

Voids and cracks have been repaired, and a fence prevents entry into the now-closed Jaggar Museum area. Safety signs mark closed areas, and the restrooms, signs and some trails are lit to aid in nighttime visitation. The NPS also installed crack monitors between Kīlauea Overlook and Uēkahuna to determine changes that signal instability.

Native Hawaiians have come to Uēkahuna long before the park was established to connect to their ancestral home. Be respectful of others, and allow them to practice their traditions privately.

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To learn more about the potent wahi pana (legendary place) of Uēkahuna, click here.

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