Big Island: 2. South of South – National Volcano Park

Hawaii’s National Volcano Park is located close to both Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, the two active volcanoes on the Big Island. The Chain of Craters Road weaves over lava. Trails crisscross the park.

We spent an afternoon at the park by driving the Chain of Craters Road, which travels 4,000 feet through lava fields down to sea level.  At the bottom of the road, we saw the Holei Sea Arch.  While the arch was created within the last 100 years, the lava from which it is created is from a lava flow from about 550 years ago!

Cool lava patterns.

Heading toward the plume of smoke where the lava meets the sea.  It’s an 10-mile round trip hike, which we didn’t quite finish.

Lava mounds and hills.

Getting a little closer…

Wahoo!  We made it to the one-mile marker!! 🙂

And now it’s mile 3!!!  Yay! Actually, all we did is take a step forward and look at the other side of the 1-mile sign! 🙂

A view from near the top.  That faint beige line running across the flat section is the road we drove on down by the sea.

This lava field reminded us of a pan of brownies! 🙂

On our way back to the visitor center, we stopped at the Pu’u’ Loa Petroglyphs.  We walked along a path out to a boardwalk, where we were able to see some of 1000s of petroglyphs that are in this area — a sacred and religious place for many Hawaiians.

As we continued our way back up, we stopped at several volcano craters. The photos don’t do these craters justice – they were huge, deep, and very cool-looking.  It’s hard to imagine them full of boiling rock.



I love how this hardy little plant (‘ohi’a lehua) just springs up here and there on the lava fields.

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