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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, established in 1916, displays the results of 70 million years of volcanism, migration, and evolution -- processes that thrust a bare land from the sea and clothed it with complex and unique ecosystems and a distinct human culture. The park encompasses diverse environments that range from sea level to the summit of the earth's most massive volcano, Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet. Kilauea, the world's most active volcano, offers scientists insights on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and visitors views of dramatic volcanic landscapes. Over half of the park is designated wilderness and provides unusual hiking and camping opportunities. In recognition of its
outstanding natural values, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has been honored as an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.

Visitor Center/Exhibits: Kilauea Visitor Center, located just inside the park entrance, offers visitor information and exhibits. Films and videos are shown in the auditorium throughout the day. Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, located about three miles from the park entrance, offers earth science displays and features murals depicting Hawaiian culture. An adjacent overlook offers a panoramic view of Kilauea Caldera and Mauna Loa.
Hawaii Natural History Association operates bookstores at both locations with an extensive selection of books, maps, videotapes, slides, and other educational items. Email "havo_hnha@nps.gov" to request a price list.

Trails: Hike the park trails to experience the park's essence and to gain an understanding of the natural and cultural history of Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes. Day hikes as well as wilderness trips of several days duration are available.

Start your visit at the Kilauea Visitor Center located just beyond the park's entrance station. The Park is open 24 hours a day year round. Kilauea Visitor Center is open daily from 7:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. Here, you will receive the latest information on trails, ranger-led activities, road conditions, and safety precautions. Because of the dynamic nature of the two active volcanoes in the park, conditions can change rapidly.

"Born of Fire, Born of the Sea" is the featured 25 minute film that is shown in the Kilauea Visitor Center on the hour throughout the day, starting at 9:00 a.m. with the last film shown at 4:00 p.m..

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If you have only one to three hours, explore the summit of Kilauea Volcano via Crater Rim Drive, an 11-mile road that encircles the summit caldera, passes through desert, lush tropical rain forest, traverses the caldera floor, and provides access to well-marked scenic stops and short walks.

If you have three to four hours, you may also explore the East Rift and coastal area of the Park via Chain of Craters Road. This road descends 3,700 feet in 20 miles and ends where a 2003 lava flow crossed the road. Depending on changing volcanic activity, there may be opportunities for viewing active lava flows from the end of the road. No food, water, or fuel is available along the Chain of Craters Road.

(This information was obtained from the National Park Service.)

About the Author

Author is webmaster of a travel site that saves time and money by searching for many hotels in several locations at once using a customized Travelocity search engine already filled in with specific city and state information for each park. Save time and money at http://www.national-parks-hotels-lodging.com

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