Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park has reopened after months of unprecedented eruptions and seismic activity that damaged infrastructure.
If you had any plans to visit Hawaii this year, then you probably had them altered when Mount Kīlauea decided to erupt earlier this May. The eruptions and subsequent earthquakes caused massive disruptions on the big island of Hawaii, with lava flows destroying over 700 homes and burying much of the residential Puna District under molten rock.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park closed on May 11th as a result of the eruption. As a result of the 1,000 earthquakes and 62 massive collapse explosions, the park suffered extensive damage with the southeast corner of the park being touched the hardest. Broken water and sewage lines, cracked roads, and building damage are a common sights throughout the park, and available parking was reduced by a full third. But that wasn’t the only thing that the eruptions changed.
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Monday brushfire alert at 6 a.m.: A brushfire on the slopes of Mauna Loa has entered the park at power line road near Mauna Loa Road. County and NPS firefighters are on the scene. The fire is now estimated to be about 300 acres. Stay safe and be aware of emergency vehicles on the road. NPS Photos/Mark Wasser
The lava lake found inside Halemaʻumaʻu Crater as well as the lava flows from Puʻu ʻŌʻō are now gone due to the eruptions. "There is no molten lava or lava glow to see anywhere in or out of the park," the park's website warns visitors.
But it’s not all doom and gloom at Volcanoes National Park. Thanks to the diligent effort of its staff, the park reopened on September 22nd, just in time for National Public Lands day which features free entry for visitors.
Although not all of the park has been reopened, various trails and iconic landmarks are now once again available to the public. Those locations include Kīlauea Visitor Center, Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association store at Kīlauea Visitor Center, Crater Rim Trail between Volcano House and Kilauea Military Camp, Sulphur Banks Trail, Crater Rim Drive to Steam Vents, Kīlauea Iki Overlook and parking lot, Devastation Trail and Pu‘u Pua‘i, Crater Rim Drive to Keanakāko‘i Crater (for pedestrians and cyclists only), Mauna Loa Road to Kīpukapuaulu (with paths past Kīpukapuaulu only open to pedestrians and cyclists), Sections of Escape Road from Highway 11, and Chain of Craters Road.
We are OPEN! Happy #HVNPWelcomeBack day and #NationalPublicLandsDay. It’s a #feefree day. So far there are no lines! We resume our 24-hour open schedule after being closed 134 days due to hazardous volcanic/seismic conditions. NPS Photo of Ranger Jack #welcomeback! pic.twitter.com/j3dlc1U4ia— Hawaii Volcanoes NPS (@Volcanoes_NPS) September 22, 2018
“It was a picture-perfect day and our hearts are filled with joy to see our visitors and community return to their park,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We thank everyone for their patience, support, and understanding during the last 134 days.”
The park will now resume it’s usual 24-hour operations while staff continue to repair the damage and re-open other sections of the park.