Designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1987, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is an ecological wonder and one of Hawaii’s biggest tourist attractions. Home to two of Hawaii’s three active volcanoes and full of native plants and wildlife, the park provides an opportunity to stand face-to-face with one of nature’s most powerful forces.
Volcanic eruptions are responsible for the creation of the entire Hawaiian island chain that makes up our beautiful state. Erupting since 1983, Kilauea is the planet’s most active volcano spewing 250K – 650K cubic yards of lava every day. Observation of this natural phenomenon has allowed scientists to learn more about the formation of Hawaii. Mauna Loa is the park’s other active volcano and at 27,000 feet higher than Mt. Everest, it also has the distinction of being Earth’s largest mountain.
The park has over 150 miles of hiking trails which take you through areas ranging from desert to rainforest with spectacular views of waterfalls, our famous black sand beaches and of course, active volcanoes. Visitors stand in awe as they take in the craters, steam vents and the beautiful red glow of flowing lava.
Believed to be the home of the Volcano goddess Pele, the park is considered a sacred place. Pele is known for her volatile temper and locals believe the area should be treated with respect in order to avoid upsetting her. Since lava rock is Pele’s flesh, it is said that bad luck will befall anyone who removes it from Hawaii, and this includes black sand. While this is one of Hawaii’s most well-known myths, the park’s museum is full of returned lava rock that would appear to support the myth as fact. Several people have claimed to experience bad luck since returning from vacation in Hawaii with lava rock as a souvenir. In order to turn their luck around, they return the rocks to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park along with letters of apology to Pele.
The entrance fee is good for one week so you can visit multiple times if you wish. Visitors can tour the park on their own or arrange for a guided tour. A stop at the Visitor’s Center offers guests an educational video as well as maps to help navigate all that the park has to offer.
It’s not every day that you get the chance to watch one of the planet’s most powerful forces and the park is truly one of Earth’s most breathtaking attractions.
To learn more about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, visit the National Park Service’s website by clicking here: http://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm
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