Expect the unexpected during the holidays at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Visitors who plan to explore Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park over the holidays could be in for a surprise if they don’t plan ahead.
While Kīlauea volcano is not currently erupting, there is steady unrest south-southwest of the caldera, in the summit, and most recently in the upper East Rift Zone. This waxing and waning unrest has triggered more than 1,800 earthquakes in the last month. Temporary safety closures are in place and more could occur on short notice if the seismicity intensifies, or an eruption breaks out in one of the remote rift zones.
Even without the allure of an eruption, park visitation soars during the holidays. Anyone who visits should expect that popular areas like Kīlauea Visitor Center, summit overlooks and trails, and Nāhuku lava tube are likely to be crowded with no parking periodically throughout the day.
It is also nēnē nesting season and one way to ensure survival of the rare and endemic Hawaiian goose is to protect it, especially during reproduction. A nēnē pair is nesting at Uēkahuna and to give this family its best chance for survival, park managers temporarily closed part of the parking lot and a small section of Crater Rim Trail east of the parking lot earlier this week.
The best way visitors can plan ahead with so much change afoot in the national park is to visit the park website for updates and alerts that could impact their visit, and check out the short “Know Before You Go” video on the homepage. Having a Plan B and C with alternate places to explore in the park is also a great idea; let the free NPS app guide you. A new orientation video in the Kīlauea Visitor Center shares ranger tips on avoiding crowds and experiencing what Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park offers based on length of stay.
With a little flexibility, planning and respect for this constantly evolving landscape, everyone can have a festive visit this holiday season.