Park officials suggest best eruption viewing areas

Published On: Nov 29 2012 02:32:13 PM HST

NPS Photo/Mark Wasser

People enjoying evening  views of Halema'uma'u Crater from Jaggar Museum overlook.

HAWAII NATIONAL PARK, Hawaii -

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials on the Big Island say the narrow streams of lava that reached the ocean last weekend are flowing several hundred yards outside of the park's easternmost boundary, over private land closer to Kalapana.

Park officials do not encourage hikers to access the flow from the end of Chain of Craters Road.  The trek is an extremely arduous and grueling hike over hardened lava at least 10 miles round trip. For information on observing lava from Kalapana, call the County hotline, (808) 961-8093.

"The best and closest place to observe a volcanic eruption within Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park at present is from Jaggar Museum overlook, and other vantage points at the summit of K?lauea that provide views of  Halema'uma'u Crater," said Chief Ranger Talmadge Magno.

During daylight, the robust plume of volcanic gas is a constant and dramatic reminder of the molten rock churning in a lava lake approximately 100 feet beneath the crater floor.  After sunset, Halema'uma'u continues to thrill visitors and park staff with a vivid glow that illuminates the clouds and the plume as it billows into the night sky.

The park has increased staffing at Jaggar Museum to assist the many visitors drawn to Halema'uma'u, which has been erupting consistently since the crater became active again in March 2008.

Nevertheless, hundreds of visitors venture to the end of Chain of Craters Road, hoping to hike out to the coastal flow originating from Pu'u 'O'o vent in the remote East Rift Zone, not realizing the distance or hazards involved.

"We don’t want people to be disappointed, and we especially don’t want people to get hurt," Magno said.  "While the historic flows covering the end of Chain of Craters Road are well worth a visit during the day, hiking all the way out to the ocean entry from the park side and leaving the park to cross private party isn’t something we recommend."

For more information, visit www.nps.gov/havo. For webcams and daily K?lauea status updates, visit the USGS HVO website, http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php.

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