Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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OVERVIEW: About this audio described brochure

Welcome to the audio-described version of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park official print brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations and maps, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that visitors receive. The brochure explores the history of the park, includes some of its highlights, and provides information for planning your visit. This audio version lasts about one hour and 45 minutes, covering both sides of the original brochure, with each side broken down into smaller sections for your listening enjoyment and time availability. 

Information included from the front of the brochure covers key highlights of the park including Kilauea crater. Each section includes vivid color photographs and relevant details about the park's geologic features, historic characters and flora and fauna.

Information from the back of the brochure consists of an illustrated map of the entire park which includes roads, amenities, peaks, lava flows, and trails, as well as a detail of Kilauea crater and a map of the surrounding area. The maps include inserts with pertinent safety, wildlife and other information.

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Quick Overview

This is the audio-only described version of the park’s brochure. The brochure includes text illustrations, historic and contemporary photographs and four maps of the site and surrounding area. Side one features the history of the area, flora and fauna, and general information. Side two focuses on the four maps including detailed areas of the volcanoes and areas of interest.

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Land where the goddess dwells...Aina a ke akua i noho ai

Volcanoes are monuments to Earth's origin, evidence that primordial forces are still at work. Volcanic eruptions remind us that our planet is ever-changing, with its basic processes beyond human control. As much a we have altered Earth's face to suit our needs, we can only stand in awe before the power of an eruption.

Volcanoes are also prodigious land builders-they created the Hawaiian Island chain. Kilauea and Mauna Loa, two of the world's most active volcanoes, still add land to the Island of Hawaii. Mauna Loa, Earth's most massive mountain, has an estimated volume of 19,000 cubic miles.

Today's summit of Mauna Loa Volcano stands 56,000 feet (17,000 meters) above the depressed sea floor - over 27,000 feet (8,230 meters) taller than Mount Everest.

Unlike explosive continental volcanoes, the more fluid and less gaseous eruptions of Kilauea and Mauna Loa produce fiery fountains and rivers of molten lava. Added layer upon layer, the flows produced a barren volcanic landscape that served as a foundation for life. Hundreds of species of plants and animals found their way across the vast Pacific on wind, water, and the wings of birds. A few survived, adapted, and prospered during this time of isolation. The arrival of humans - first Polynesians, then Europeans - and the plants and animals they brought drastically altered this evolutionary showcase, this grand natural experiment.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park shows the results of 70 million years of volcanism, migration, and evolution in the Hawaiian Island-Emperor Seamount chain. These processes first thrusted a bare land from the sea and then clothed it with complex, unique ecosystems and a distinct human culture. Created to preserve the natural settings of Kilauea and Mauna Loa, the park is also refuge for the island's native plants and animals and link to its human past. Park managers and scientists work to protect the park resources and to promote understanding and appreciation of the park. Research by US Geological Survey scientists makes Kilauea one of the best understood volcanoes in the world. It sheds light on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and planet Earth's beginnings. Each eruption reminds us of the power of natural processes to change the air we breathe, the ground we walk on, and the sea that surrounds this volcanic island.

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Photograph of Kilauea crater erupting

Photograph of Kilauea crater erupting with lava within a large recessed crater with an expansive barrier landscape. Steam and smoke trail the red/orange lava that covers a small portion of the recessed crater.

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Site Highlights

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Trouble in Paradise

The Hawaiian Archipelago, once celebrated as islands of evolution, are now islands of extinction. The arrival of people changed the conditions that fostered the original diversity of life. As land was cleared to plant crops and build communities, the forests vanished. Polynesian and other settlers introduced invasive plants and animals, and some thrived and multiplied in their new home. The impact has been catastrophic.

Pigs destroy the understory of tree fern and ohia forests. Their muddy wallows became breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that transmit avian malaria and pox to native birds. Mongooses, cats, and rats eat native birds and their eggs. Invasive plants, like the faya and kahili ginger, displace vast areas of Hawaiian forests. The onslaught of introduced plants and animals drove countless native species to extinction and still threatens unique life forms on Hawaii.

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Boundary Fence

Illustration showing the effects of the boundary fence separating heavily forested area from the sparcely vegitated animal grazing section. Caption: A boundary fence keeps the ranch animals from grazing in park forests.

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Saving an Ecosystem

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is like an island within an island. It shelters remnants of the once-rich tapestry of Hawaiian life now unraveled by invasive species. In some parts of the park, natural habitats are damaged beyond recovery.

Park staff concentrates on the most biologically diverse habitats and those that offer the best chance for restoration. The strategy is to control or eliminate the most disruptive invasive plant and animal pests. Crews build fences to keep out feral animals, track and kill feral pigs, and destroy faya, guava, and kahili ginger. As native plant communities  establish themselves again, the populations of Hawaiian honeycreepers, nene, Kamehameha butterflies, and happyface spiders may flourish.

In recognition of its outstanding natural values, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has been named an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site. The park continues to promote the vitality of this remnant of pristine Hawaii.

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Fauna and Flora in the Park

Illustration depicting the Volcanoes National Park animals and plants in one scene numbered from 1 to 48, categorized as Endemic - Unique to Hawaii, found no place else on Earth, Indigenous - Naturally occurring in Hawaii but also found elsewhere, or Invasive - Introduced by humans.  1. Common mynah (invasive) medium sized bird with brown body, black head and yellow beak, 2. Faya (Firetree) (invasive) leafy green shrub, 3. Japanese white-eye (invasive) small yellow-green bird, 4. Ohelo (endemic) small leafed branched plant with red circular seed pods displayed at the tips, 5. Nene (endemic) endangered species large goose with black head, white neck, brown body with webbed feet, 6. Tree snail (endemic) slug-like creature with brown shell on back, 7. Happyface spider (endemic) eight-legged green spider with brown triangular shaped marking on lower portion of body, 8. Aalii (indigenous) oval leafed plant with red flowers, 9. Kukaenene (endemic) grown growing vine with short multi-leafed branches and black circular berries, 10. Koa e kea (White-tailed tropicbird) (indigenous) medium white bird with long wings and tail, 11. Pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl) (endemic) medium sized owl with yellow eyes and brown/black body, 12. Predatory caterpillar (endemic) small white/gray long multi-legged insect, 13. Pinao (green darner dragonfly) (endemic) flying insect with long black body and 4 wings, 14. Kilauea Naupaka (endemic) leafy shrub with long white flowers and dark blue berries, 15. Small Indian mongoose (invasive) weasel-like mammal with long body and tail, 16. Io (Hawaiian hawk) endangered species medium sized bird with brown body and contrasting white breast, 17. Koa (endemic) tree with leafy branches, 18. Black rat (invasive) medium-sized rodent with long tail, 19. Hawaii Amakihi (endemic) medium sized bird with green body and contrasting yellow breast, 20. Damselfly (endemic) long flying insect with red body and black wings, 21. Painiu (endemic) long leafed plant that grows among host plants such as trees with bunched groupings of red berries, 22. Hawaii Elepaio (endemic) small bird with brown, black and white coloring, 23. Iiwi (endemic) medium sized bird with red body and long beak with black tail feathers and wings, 24. Haha (endemic) purple and white flowered plant, 25. Blackburn butterfly (endemic) small winged insect with black outside and light green inside colored wings, 26. Hapuu (endemic) large fern with long brown hairy stems and bright green leafy foliage, 27. Mamane (endemic) drop shaped leaves with yellow multi-leafed flowers, 28. Alaalawainui (endemic) short broad leafed plant with light colored stems protruding from the end of the branches, 29. Feral pig (invasive) medium sized brown hairy pigs with long snouts and tusks, 30. Ohialehua (endemic) medium sized trees with small dark green leaves and bright red brush-like flowers coming out at the end of its branches, 31. Apapane (endemic) medium-sized bird with red body, black wings and white/black tail feathers, 32. Kamehameha butterfly (endemic) large red and black winged insect, 33. Mamaki (endemic) light green long and broad leafed plant with white berries, 34. Omao (endemic) medium-sized bird with white breast and light brown coloring, 35. Pilo (endemic) short shrub with broad leaves and clumps of red berries, 36. Hawaiian wolf spider (endemic) hairy large spider with yellow and black markings on a brown body, 37. Kalij pheasant (invasive) large bird with red face, black body, white breast and long tail feathers, 38. Opeapea (Hawaiian hoary bat) endangered species medium sized brownish black bat, 39. Pukiawe (indigenous) short shrub with clumpy short light green leaves with pink circular flowers protruding at the stem ends, 40. Dark lava flow cricket (endemic) large insect with long front atteni and yellowish gray body, 41. Kolea (Pacific golden-plover) medium sized bird with black face, breast, lower body with a brown/orange patterned back extending to its crown. A white stripe separates the black side from the rest, 42. Niu (Coconut palm) tall, thin tree with coconuts clustered at the top with the long leafed palms, 43. Amau (endemic) short fern plant with long leaves, 44. Ae (indigenous) small fern plants growing out of lava flows, 45. Feral cat (invasive) domesticated house cats turned wild, 46. Humpback whale (indigenous) very large aquatic mammal with long side flippers, 47. Noio (Black noddy) (endemic) medium sized ocean bird with long wings and light coloring, 48. Honuea (Hawksbill turtle) medium sized green sea faring turtle with long front flippers.

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Life Comes to a New Land

A few million years ago, a spore released into the wind from a fern in southeast Asia was carried by air currents high into the jet stream, where it drifted eastward. Eventually it settled on a barren lava field in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This is just one way that life came to the Hawaiian Islands.

Insects, seeds, and spiders also rode air currents to the islands. Migrating or storm-driven birds carried seeds in their digestive tracts or on their feathers. Ocean currents carried salt-resistant seeds and insects, plants, and snails on floating debris. Amphibians, reptiles, freshwater fish, and most mammals were unable to cross the ocean expanse - only the monk seal and hoary bat succeeded. Few of the millions of organisms embarking on this chance voyage made it here. Of those, only a few survived.

Over a span of 32 million years, plants and animals colonized the Hawaiian Island chain at a rate of one insect every 68,000 years, and one bird every one million years. The species changed gradually, evolving new forms better adapted to island life. Without the predators and competitors of their former homelands, they didn't need elaborate defense mechanisms to survive. Qualities that once protected them proved unnecessary and were eventually lost. Contradictory terms now describe these new life forms: nettleless nettles, mintless mints, stinkless stink bugs, and flightless birds. About 90 percent of Hawaii's native flora is endemic, found nowhere else on Earth. The islands' 110 endemic land birds evolved from as few as 30 original ancestors; about 1,100 kinds of flowering plants evolved from 270-280 immigrants; over 1,000 mollusks evolved from at least 22 immigrants; and about 10,000 endemic insects and spiders developed from 350 to 400 separate original colonizers. The diversity of life that came to flourish on these isolated, once barren islands bears witness to the force of evolution and the tenacity of life.

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People of the Islands...Hooulu Lahui

Polynesians from distant lands came to the shores of Hawaii over a thousand years ago. Sailing on large, double-hulled canoes they navigated by using the position of the stars, the sun, and the moon, by the movement of waves, and by the flight of birds. These ancestors of Native Hawaiians, guided by the elemental forces of nature, arrived with only the bare necessities. By drawing upon the resources of the land and sea, they sustained themselves and thrived.

Native Hawaiians recognized and revered a pantheon of gods, goddesses, and guardian ancestors with traditions that have evolved and still practiced today. Woven into all aspects of life were ritual and reciprocal protocols that asked permission and gave thanks. These were necessary for the perpetuation of resources upon which life depended. Accumulated knowledge and wisdom enabled Native Hawaiians to adapt to life on these volcanically active lands. They tended crops in shallow rock pits, dried salt along the shoreline to preserve fish, and captured birds to eat. Water was collected in gourds, drop by drop from ceilings of lava tubes or from springs. Deities rewarded careful stewardship, and their wrath was felt if they were displeased. Today, in these seemingly inhospitable lands, a myriad of resources feed, clothe, and house the people of Hawaii.

Some Native Hawaiian families trace their lineage to Pelehonuamea, a women deified because of her power over volcanic eruptions and lava flows. Today Pele resides in Halemaumau. Respect for her presence is essential in a land where evidence of her work abounds, and where landscapes can be transformed overnight. Through the centuries, in times of plenty and of scarcity, Native Hawaiians remain steadfast in their love of these cherished islands, their aina aloha.

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Voyaging double hulled canoe illustration

Large double hulled canoe with two large triangular sails and nine humans aboard engaged with navigating. The sky is bright orange and reflects upon the small wave pulling the canoe toward the rising sun. A large sea gull is flying in the same direction.

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Hawaiian translation of the "People of the Islands"

I ke ao kahiko, ua kai na poe Hawaii ma ka waa kaulua a pae ma keia aina. amuli o ka ike ana i ke ahi o Pele - he aina, he aina i mua o kakou. Ua hele mai lakou me na mea pono apau no ka nolo ana a noho lakou me ka ike ole. He aina he mea nui loa ia lakou pela me ke kai. Keia mau manao lanakila lakou. Ua hele mai lakou me ke akua. O ko lakou akua oia no o Kane, Ku, Lono, Kanaloa, Pele a me aumakua a me na akua e ae. Aia o Pele ma na aina apau. Kekahi o lakou ke malama nei no. Mahalo lakou i ko lakou akua no na mea apau.

He poe naauao lakou. Mai ka aina na mea ai apau. Mai ke kai ka paakai a me ka ia a mai ka lani ka wai. Malama lakou i ka aina a me ke kai e like me ka malama ana o ke kino o ke kanaka. O ke aloha o ka aina, he mea pauole - ko kakou aina aloha.

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Lava flow photograph

Red orange lava flows smoothly like a river through a large black barren lava field. Smoke is rising in the right-hand corner far from the flow into a gray sky.

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Three Hawaiians in traditional dress photograph

Three native Hawaiians dress in traditional clothing, one sitting with a light blue toga-like clothing holding a large gourd used as a musical instrument for chanting  and traditional Hula, sitting on a long mat while the two others dressed in red, dance with one arm pointed toward the right. The background has two short trees on the right and a partial rainbow on the left. 

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Planning Your Visit

On Kilauea:  Crater Rim Drive a six mile drive leads you through steaming vents and rain forest, with stops along the way. Chain of Craters Road a 38-mile round-trip drive intersects Crater Rim Drive, 3,700 feet to the coast, and ends at a 2003 lava flow.

At Kahuku: The Kahuku area is open Saturdays and Sundays, 9 am to 3 pm, except first Saturdays of the month. Please visit www.nps.gov/havo or call 808-985-6000 for information.

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Activities in the Park

Trails - The park has over 150 miles of trails. On Mauna Loa: Both backpackers and mountaineers can enjoy the challenges of this one- to four-day hike. Warning: you must be in good physical condition and be properly equipped for winter mountaineering.

Climate - At 4,000 feet of elevation the Kilauea summit can be rainy and chilly at any time. Usually the coastal area is warm and dry. Be prepared for a variable weather. Bring a rain jacket and wear long pants and closed-toe shoes.

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Safety Messages

Visitor Alert! 

High amounts of dangerous sulfur dioxide gas may be present in areas of the park. These gases are a danger to everyone, particularly to people with heart or respiratory problems and infants, young children, and pregnant women.

Volcanic gas looks like smog. Keep your windows closed when it is visible.

If air irritates, smells bad, or you have difficulty breathing - leave the area.

When areas are closed for high sulfur dioxide you will be directed to areas that are open.

Kilauea Visitor Center offers updates on air quality 24 hours a day.

Visit http://www.hawaiiso2network.com to view current conditions.

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  • Collecting rocks, lava, sand cultural artifacts, plants, or animals is prohibited.
  • Archeological sites and artifacts are protected by federal law. Be respectful and do not climb on, build, alter any rock structure. Do not make rubbings or molds of petroglyphs.
  • Fishing on the coast from the eastern park boundary to the cliff midway between Keauhou and Halape is for native Hawaiian Kalapana residents only.
  • Backcountry camping brochure and the required permit are available at Backcountry Camping Permit Office. Group limit is 12 people. Practice Leave No Trace: if you pack it in - pack it out.
  • Fires are allowed only in fireplaces and grates at Namakanipaio Campground and the Kipukapuaulu and Kilauea Overlook picnic areas. Vehicle exhaust systems can start fires in grassy areas; park only where designated. Lighting or possession of fireworks is prohibited.
  • Pets must be leashed and attended. They are not allowed in all underdeveloped areas including wilderness and on front- and backcountry trails.
  • Nene (Hawaiian Goose) a critically endangered species, needs your protection. Watch for nene along roads. Slow down in nene habitat areas marked by signs - Do Not Feed Nene! Feeding causes them to beg for food at roadsides and to approach vehicles, putting them at risk of injury or death.
  • Firearms regulations are available on the park website.
  • Bicycles are restricted to designated paved roads and trails and to gravel roads. Ask for a brochure at Kilauea Visitor Center.

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For Your Safety

  • Hiking STAY ON MARKED TRAILS. Avoid cliffs, earth cracks, and steam vents; these unstable features may collapse or be slippery. Hiking over cracks, holes, loose rock, and thin lava crust greatly increases your risk of injury. Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes. Lava fields fields are shadeless and hot. Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Carry at least two quarts of of water per person.
  • Along the coast expect strong winds, steep sea cliffs, high waves, and unpredictable surf.
  • Volcanic eruptions can be extremely hazardous. Areas around erupting vents are closed to travel - and even from a distance fumes and fallout (Pele's hair, cinder, and ash) can irritate lungs and eyes. Heed all ranger instructions and obey all signs. For US Geological Survey eruption updates visit: volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/activity/kilaueastatus.php

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  • Hotels and Cabins Volcano House Hotel and Namakanipaio Campground and Cabins are run by Hawaii Volcanoes Lodge Co., LLC. Contact 808-756-9625 or www.hawaiivolcanohouse.com for information. Park entrance fees apply; campground registration required, and fees apply. Restrooms, water, and picnic tables are available. Fires are allowed only in existing fireplaces or grates.
  • Campgrounds Park entrance fees apply. The park has two drive-in campgrounds. Namakanipaio (off Hwy 11) is run by Hawaii Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC (see above). Kulanaokuaiki (off Hilina Pali Road) is first come, first served; no reservations required. Water not available; campfires prohibited. Use fueled camp stoves only. Stays limited to seven consecutive days per month and 30 days per year total.

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Overview Map of Volcanoes National Park

Untitled map showing a 3D representation of Volcanoes National Park and much of Hawaii Island. The map shows that Volcanoes National park stretches from central to the southeastern coast of Hawaii Island. The map depicts key points of interest inside the park, location of the visitor’s center, location of park amenities, key points of access and main roads going through the park, location of surrounding communities, geographic points of interest in the park and on Hawaii Island, ecosystems, location of major trails, and elevations. The map indicates that a portion of the Kilauea Crater area is closed due to hazardous conditions. The map is orientated to show a 3D view of how Hawaii Island would appear looking from the southeast coast of Volcanoes National Park, across the park towards the town of Kailua Kona in the northwest. The map represents an area of craters, deserts, forests, mountains and coastline measuring approximately 4000 square miles of which 505 square miles are Volcanoes National Park. The Visitor’s Center for Volcanoes National Park is located in eastern Hawaii Island, along highway 11 (Crater Rim Drive) directly west from Volcanoes Village and northeast of Kilauea Caldera. Chain of Craters Road is extends south from the Visitor’s Center all the way to the South Coast of Hawaii Island where it dead-ends at the Holei Sea Arch. The Visitor’s Center Includes an accessible area, water, bathrooms, restrooms, telephones and a picnic area. Near the Visitor’s Center are hiking trails, Volcano House, Namakanipaio, Kipukapuaulu, Jaggar Museum, Ola’a Forest and Thurston Lava Tube. There are multiple trails in the park that run across mountainous, desert, coastal and volcanic landscapes. The Great Crack, Southwest Rift Zone, and East Rift Zone run through the park. Campsites, picnic areas, restrooms, telephones, and water is available at various locations throughout the park. A note on the map reads: “Eruption activity and the course of lava flows are constantly changing. Check with park staff for current conditions.” Key points of interest on Hawaii Island outside of Volcanoes National Park that appear on the map include, to the West of the Park, Mauna Loa, Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, the town of Kailua Kona, and Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. To the north are Mauna Kea, Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, and the town of Waimea. The town of Hilo lies to the northeast of the park but it is not represented on the map. Not all locations listed on the map have been described. The primary means of accessing Hawaii Volcanoes Park is Highway 11, which runs south from Kailua Kona, along the west coast of Hawaii Island, through the park, and then north to Hilo. The distance between Kailua Kona and the Kilauea Visitors Center is 96 miles. The distance between Hilo and the Kilauea Visitors Center is 28 miles.  

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Inset Map of Kilauea Visitors Center/Crater

Untitled map showing the area of the Kilauea Visitor’s Center and Crater including location of the visitor’s center, roads, trails, craters, lava tubes, steam vents, closed areas, campgrounds and cabins, lodging, lookouts, picnic areas, restrooms, drinking water, telephones, wheelchair access, elevation, trail length, and additional geographic features. The map is orientated with north at the top and represents an area of craters, forests and mountains measuring approximately 10 square miles within the park boundaries. A large portion of the map represents the Kilauea Caldera, which is closed to visitors due to hazardous conditions. A note indicates that visitors should check with rangers for the latest conditions. The Kilauea Caldera covers the entire southwest quadrant and the lower part of the northwest quadrant of the map, The Visitor’s Center is located in the northeast quadrant of the map, along highway 11 (Crater rim Drive) directly west from Volcanoes Village and northwest of Kilauea Iki Crater. The Visitor’s Center Includes an accessible area, water, bathrooms, restrooms, telephones and a picnic area. The Crater Rim trail can be accessed from the Visitor’s Center and other hiking trails are nearby. Also near the Visitor’s Center are Volcano House, which offers food and lodging, Volcano Art Center Gallery, Steam Vents, and Sulfur Banks (Ha’akulamanu). Note that Sulfur Banks has hazardous volcanic fumes. Other points of interest included in the map are from West to East towards the Visitor’s Center Namakanipaio Campground and Cabins, Jaggar Museum, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (not open to the public), Kilauea Overlook, and Kilauea Military Camp. East of the Visitor’s Center are Kilauea Iki Crater and Thurston Lava Tube. The primary road running through this area is highway 11, which runs along the south coast of Hawaii Island from Kailua Kona and then northeast to Hilo. 

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OVERVIEW: Accessibility

Accessibility Wheelchairs for use in the park are available at Kilauea Visitor Center and Jaggar Museum. Kilauea Visitor Center, Jaggar Museum, Volcano House, the Volcano Art Center Gallery, and hula platform are wheelchair accessible. Namakanipaio Campground has wheelchair-accessible campsites and restroom. Visit Kilauea Visitor Center for information on wheelchair-accessible trails.

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Contact Information

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
PO Box 52, Hawaii National Park
HI 96718-0052, 808-985-6000


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Phone Number


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OVERVIEW: For More Information

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

PO Box 52, Hawaii National Park

HI 96718-0052, 808-985-6000


Hawaii Pacific Parks Association offers educational publications at www.hawaiipacificparks.org

Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offers programs and activities at www.fhvnp.org

This is one of over 4000 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks please visit www.nps.gov

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