Overview About Hawaii National Park

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which is situated in Hawaii island, 28 miles from the city of Hilo and 96 miles from the city of Kailua-Kona. This park measures about 333,000 acres, which is very large. It was established in 1916 mainly because of its wonderful geology.


The Park encompasses the southwest rift and summit of Mauna Loa volcano, at 13,677 feet above sea level and another approximately 15,000 feet below sea level to its base on the ocean floor; it is the largest single mountain mass and the largest volcano on earth. Mauna Loa in Hawaiian means “the long mountain”. At any time during the year weather can be hazardous on the summit. From October through April storms can cover the peak in snow sometimes as low as 9,000 feet in elevation. The Park maintains a trail to the summit which can be climbed in three days. Cabins are available at Red Hill, 10,000 foot elevation and the summit. The Park also includes the summit area and upper rift zone of 4,078 foot high Kilauea volcano. The name Kilauea means something like “spreading, much spewing”. Kilauea is the youngest of the five volcanoes on the island of Hawaii, having been formed over the past 100,000 years.


Both Mauna Loa and Kilauea are considered to be the most active volcanoes in the world. Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984 sending lava flows to within four miles of downtown Hilo before they stopped. Kilauea has been erupting along its east rift zone since 1983 with only a few short pauses. Today, lava flows enter the ocean creating large steam plums visible from many miles along the coast. In the recent past Kilauea has displayed spectacular eruptions in the summit area, both in the caldera and central crater of Halema`uma`u, home of the Hawaiian fire goddess, Pele. Mauna Loa and Kilauea have more to offer than geological wonders. The volcanoes are home to rare and endangered plants, insects, birds, sea turtles, bats, and monk seals, many other species of plants and insects which are found nowhere else in the world due to the extreme remoteness of the Hawaiian Islands. There are now nearly 300 federally listed endangered and threatened plant species in Hawaii, a total greater than in all other States combined. Of these, one quarter of the species occur at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Park includes examples of seven ecological zones from seacoast, lowland and mid-elevation woodlands, rainforest, upland forest, open sparsely vegetated desert, sub-alpine and alpine zones, all within close proximity. The Crater Rim Drive tour takes the visitor through excellent examples of rain forest, woodland, and desert. In 1980, the Park was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve.


There are 66 miles of scenic roads, 155 miles of marked trails, and 120,000 acres of wilderness in the Park. In three to four hours one can drive from sea level to over 6,000 feet elevation. It has been a visitor attraction from the earliest times of discovery and exploration, and remains an important cultural focus for native Hawaiians. Today, nearly two million visitors a year visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It is open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Visitor Center is open from 7:45 am to 5:00 pm.


Weather can change quickly in Hawaii, especially on the upper mountain slopes. It is recommended to carry a jacket, sweater, or rain jacket, and wear comfortable walking shoes. Check in with Kilauea Visitor Center if you plan to visit the lava flow or hike in the back country.


All plants, animals, and rock features are protected. Heed ALL warning signs. Volcanic fumes can hazardous to your health. Visitors with heart or breathing problems, and infants, young children, and pregnant women are especially at risk and should avoid Halema`uma`u Crater, Sulfur Banks and other areas where volcanic fumes are present.


This content was written and provided by Georgi Dagnall. For further information, please visit http://www.Geogad.com

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