Despite lack of lava, business at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is booming

Despite lack of lava, business at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is booming
A visitor explores Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. (Source: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Heading to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in the near future? Consider carpooling or going on an off-day, officials recommend: the park has been so busy lately that parking is extremely limited.

Visitors trying to make stops at popular places like the Kilauea summit are getting frustrated, according to a news release from park officials, because the lack of parking spots is leading to more citations for illegal parking.

Some days are more popular than others, according to one park official.

“On Tuesdays, expect to find zero parking at the summit destinations between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.," said Ben Hayes. “It’s not unusual for traffic to be backed out onto Highway 11 from the entrance station.”

The influx in visitors is particularly notable considering what happened there last year: during the 2018 eruption of Kilauea, the park was forced to close to all visitors for months as a safety precaution.

Now that they’re back open for business, park officials say finding parking is a challenge on just about any day during the busy summer months.

“We want our visitors to leave with smiles, photos and memories that will last a lifetime, not a parking ticket or a negative experience. All it takes is a little planning and flexibility.” Hayes said.

To combat the lack of parking, officials are suggesting that visitors explore areas away from the crowds, such as:

  • Kilauea Iki Trail — the four-mile trek is one of the most scenic and popular trails in the park.
  • Mauna Loa Road — Kipukapuaulu offers an easy, forested hike, and the views and birding are excellent along the way to the Mauna Loa Overlook at 6,662 ft.
  • Kahuku — Kahuku is free, never crowded, and is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday. Located on the inland side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5 in Ka‘u.

Officials also are starting a “turn left Tuesday,” where visitors “turn left at the entrance station to head down the 19-mile Chain of Craters Road towards the park’s dramatic lava-covered coast.”

There, visitors can stop at the crater pullouts, explore the Mauna Ulu fissure eruption and Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs, and enjoy scenic overlooks and the Holei Sea Arch, the news release said.

The park is open 24 hours a day year-round, and officials say to check out the attractions before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m.

To check the parking status at popular locations throughout the day, click here.

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