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Volcanoes National Park

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is located on the largest of the Hawaiian Islands called Hawai’i or more commonly the Big Island. It is Hawai’i’s most famous natural attraction. The Park offers volcano activity, rainforests, hiking trails and spectacular scenery. One can see the park’s wonders from fifty miles of roads, though new lava flows sometimes necessitate a detour. Kilauea’s four-kilometer-wide Halemaumau caldera, the Kilauea Iki crater trail, the easy Kipuka Puaula Trail and the nearby town of Volcano entice and amaze visitors to the area. The park encompasses 230,000 acres and covers area from sea level to the summit of Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet (4,150 m). Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano, has been in a continuous state of eruption since 1983. The eruption offers scientists insights on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and visitors views of an active volcanic landscapes. Over half of the park is designated protected wilderness area and offers a myriad of hiking and camping opportunities. It was established as a National Park in 1916. In recognition of its outstanding natural values, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has been honored as an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.

Hawaiian plants and animals began to evolve over 70 million years ago in nearly complete isolation and over 90% of the native terrestrial flora and fauna in Hawaii are found only in the Hawaiian islands. This level of endemism surpasses all other places on Earth, even the Galapagos Islands. Of the 23 surviving endemic Hawaiian songbird species, those living within the park include six Hawaiian honeycreepers; ‘apapane, ‘amakihi, ‘i’iwi, and three federally listed as endangered; ‘akepa, ‘akiapola’au, and the Hawaii creeper. Another three species of endemic Hawaiian birds found within the park are also endangered; the nene, or Hawaiian goose, Hawaiian petrel, and ‘io or Hawaiian hawk.

Some of the best locations to photograph Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park include the Kilauea caldera, the Pu’u Oo Vent, and any time there is an active lava ocean entry at night. The eruption is constantly changing with access to certain areas of the park being restricted due to the dangers from recent activity.