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The geologic creation of the Hawaiian island chain, a timeless battle between the elemental forces of fire and water, is one of the world’s greatest natural history stories. There’s not a better place on earth to witness and understand the awesome nature of volcanoes than at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There is no better way to explore the park than in the company of one of Hawaii Forest and Trail’s Interpretive Naturalists. They will show you the “must see” places within the park while you learn about their geological and historic significance.
You’ll really get an idea of how big the Big Island is during the course of this 11-12 hour full-day tour. And you’ll appreciate that someone else is doing the driving. Starting from Kona, you will travel up the coast over desolate lava flows for about a half hour before proceeding up the rolling pasturelands on the flanks of Mauna Kea. Turning onto the Saddle Road that traverses the island between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, you’ll see a dramatic and diverse landscape of ranchland, sub alpine dryforest and rainforest, with striking features such as cinder cones, lava flows, lava tubes and kipukas. You’ll stop for a short break and deli lunch. Continuing on, you will drop down to near sea-level on the way through Hilo where you begin the final climb to the summit of Kilauea and the lush entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Once at the park you’ll see splendid native rain forests, visit a lava tube, discover remarkable volcanic formations and a splendid diversity of geography and climate. Through detailed geologic and natural history interpretation, small walks, and driving, you will explore and learn about the world’s most active volcano. Evidence of Kilauea’s activity is everywhere in the park; you’ll see, feel and smell steam vents where vapor is escaping the ground.
A picnic dinner is served en route during your adventure through the park. Depending on what’s happening with the active flow, you may walk out to view red hot lava! Close encounters with an active flow do not happen every day; viewing conditions change frequently and sometimes the lava pauses, goes underground, or happens in a remote area where it is too far to hike. Kilauea expresses its activity in several places, and there is currently an active vent that has been spewing rock, ash, and fume from the summit caldera which is easily visible from the overlooks. Ocean entries come and go; most days you will see steam clouds from the entry points.
By the end of the day, you’ll have traveled over 300 miles and experienced an elevation change (the tour goes up and down a few times!) of over 30,000 feet.