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What Visitors Can Expect to see in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

October 3, 2021, 12:18 PM HST
* Updated October 3, 8:20 PM
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Captivating images and video of the new lava lake eruption on Kīlauea volcano are going viral, but they often do not represent what visitors can safely see when they visit Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

So what can visitors expect to see? It depends on when they arrive, and the weather. 

In the Dark

A reddish orange glow fills the dark sky above a massive 127-acre (52 hectare) lava lake, reflecting into the gas plume wafting out of the volcano, and onto any clouds above the summit crater, Halemaʻumaʻu. Jagged crater walls are illuminated, showing the scars from the 2018 summit collapse. 

In Daylight

Volcanic gas and steam billow out of Halemaʻumaʻu, and the entire summit caldera, Kaluapele, is fully visible. Koaʻe kea, white-tailed tropicbirds, are often observed flying above the crater. 

The best eruption viewpoints day or night are along Crater Rim Trail, and include Uēkahuna, Kīlauea Overlook, Wahinekapu (Steaming Bluff), Kupinaʻi Pali (Waldron Ledge), Keanakākoʻi and other overlooks. Glimpses of lava from the rising lava lake were spotted periodically from Keanakākoʻi and Uēkahuna Saturday night and Sunday. Note there is limited parking at Devastation Trail parking lot, used to access Keanakākoʻi. 

Check the Weather

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Rain and clouds are not uncommon at Kīlauea, and conditions can change quickly. The 4,000-foot (1,210-meter) summit can also be chilly. 

Safety First

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Volcanic eruptions can be hazardous and can change at any time. Stay on marked trails and overlooks, and avoid earth cracks and cliff edges. Do not enter closed areas. Maintain social distance of six feet and wear a mask to reduce the spread of COVID. Stay home if you are feeling sick. 

Be Respectful

Park landscapes are sacred places for many people. Please be respectful and allow them to practice their traditions privately. The current eruption is just one feature of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, which spans 335,259 acres from sea level to the summit of Mauna Loa volcano.

For more information about the park and the new eruption, visit https://go.nps.gov/new-eruption.

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