More than 150 miles of hiking trails give visitors a true sense of what makes Volcano National Park such an unique setting for outdoor adventure. Located on the island of Hawaii, the Park offers nature enthusiasts superb choices from hiking and exploring to biking and mountain biking on a variety of easy to difficult trails. Add in thick rain forests, nearly dry deserts, volcanic features, and a variety of unusual birds and wildlife, and it's easy to see why this Park feels like paradise to people who want to spend every moment of their trip outside.
From easy to difficult, hiking trails in the Park abound. Hike through the forest on the one mile Earthquake Trail or get a feel for the Park's thermal areas on the 1.2 mile Sulphur Banks Trail. See petroglyphs on the moderate 3.0 moderate mile Pu'u Loan Petroglyphs Trail. For more experienced hikers, try the Kilauea Iki Trail as it descends through the rain forest to the frozen but steaming crater floor. Or take the ultimate challenge on the 15.6 mile round trip Crater Rim Trail to explore a variety of ecosystems and volcanic features.
Seven backcountry trails let seasoned hikers explore the Park and spend the night under the stars. Try the Apua trailhead as it weaves along and down to the ocean--pitch your tent in the coconut trees and take a swim in the cove at high tide. Or head up the challenging Mauna Loa trailhead and stay at one of two rough cabins near the top. All overnight backcountry hiking and camping requires a free permit that can be obtained at the Kilauea Visitor Center no earlier than the day prior to your hike.
Touring via bike offers a great way to see many of the features of the Park. Bike from lush forests to barren deserts on the moderate 11 mile Circle the Rim route. Mountain bikers enjoy the challenging Escape to Mauna Ulu route, a 12.5 mile loop on an unpaved road descending rain forest and across a lava flow. Short bike rides abound--try the one and a half mile Mauna Loa Corral road or the 0.3 mile Six Tanks Road that ends at the Keamoku lava flow from Mauna Loa.
Watching hot orange lava spewing from Kilauea remains one of the "must see" activities when visiting the Park. While two active volcanoes give this ever-shifting Park its unique features, Kilauea Volcano, one of the world's most volatile volcanoes, has continuously erupted since the 1980s. For a fantastic light show, head to the Park's Jaggar Museum after dark to view the glowing lava flowing from Kilauea.
Camping and Lodging
Two free drive-in campgrounds, Namakanipaio and Kulanaokuaiki, make great base camps for exploring the Park. Namakanipaio also offers 10 rustic cabins although reservations are required. Treat yourself to park lodging at the infamous Volcano House with its spectacular views of the Kilauea caldera. The lodge features 42 rooms with an on-site dining room, lounge, snack bar and two gift shops.