Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park sees more than 1.1 million visitors each year

Hawaii Islands National Park on the Big Island protects the Kīlauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, two of the world’s most active geological features. Diverse ecosystems range from tropical forests at sea level to barren lava beds at more than 13,000 feet (4,000 m).


Volcanoes are also prodigious land builders

During a volcanic eruption, we are reminded that our planet is an ever-changing environment whose basic processes are beyond human control. As much as we have altered the face of the Earth to suit our needs, we can only stand in awe before the power of an eruption.

Volcanoes are also prodigious land builders – they have created the Hawaiian Island chain. Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, two of the world’s most active volcanoes, are still adding to the island of Hawaiʻi. Mauna Loa is the most massive mountain on Earth occupying an estimated volume of 19,999 cubic miles. The current summit of Mauna Loa stands about 56,000 feet (17,000 m) above the depressed sea floor. This is more than 27,000 feet (8,230 m) higher than Mount Everest. In contrast to the explosive continental volcanoes, the more fluid and less gaseous eruptions of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa produce fiery fountains and rivers of molden lava. These flows, added layer upon layer, produced a barren volcanic landscape that served as a fountain for life. Hundreds of species of plants and animals found their way across the vast Pacific on wind, water, and the wings of birds. A few survived, adapted, and prospered during this time of isolation. The arrival of humans – first Polynesians, then Europeans – and the plants and animals they brought with them drastically altered this evolutionary showcase, this grand natural experiment.

Today Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park displays the results of at least 70 million years of volcanism, migration, and evolution in the Hawaiian Island-Emperor Seamount chain-processes that would thrust a bare land from the sea and clothed it with complex and unique ecosystems and a distinct human culture. Created to preserve the natural setting of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, the park is also a refuge for the island’s native plants and animals and a link to its human past. Park managers and scientists work to protect the resources and promote understanding and appreciation of the park visitors. Research by scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory makes Kīlauea one of the best understood volcanoes in the world, shedding light on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and the beginnings of planet Earth. Each eruption is a reminder of the power of natural processes to change the air we breath, the ground we walk on, and the sea that surrounds this volcanic island we call home.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/havo/learn/nature/volcanoes-are-monuments.htm

Native American History

Superb voyagers, Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands migrated to Hawai`i over 1,600 years ago

Superb voyagers, Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands migrated to Hawai`i over 1,600 years ago. Navigating by the sun and stars, reading the winds, currents, and the flight of seabirds, Polynesians sailed across 2,400 miles of open ocean in great double-hulled canoes. They brought with them items essential to their survival: pua’a (pigs), `ilio (dogs), and moa (chickens); the roots of kalo (taro) and `uala (sweet potato); the seeds and saplings of niu (coconut), mai`a (banana), ko (sugar cane), and other edible and medicinal plants. Polynesians were well-established on the islands when about 800 years ago, Polynesians from the Society Islands arrived in Hawai`i. Claiming descent from the greatest gods, they became the new rulers of Hawai`i. After a time of voyaging back and forth between the Society Islands and the Hawaiian Archipelago, contact with southern Polynesia ceased. During the 400 years of isolation that followed, a unique Hawaiian culture developed.

Hawai`i was a highly stratified society with strictly maintained castes. The ali`i (chiefs) headed the social pyramid and ruled over the land. Highly regarded and sometimes feared, the kahuna (professionals) were experts on religious ritual or specialists in canoe-building, herbal medicine, and healing. The maka`ainana (commoners) farmed and fished; built walls, houses, and fishponds; and paid taxes to the paramount chiefs and his chiefs. Kauwa, the lowest class, were outcasts or slaves.

A system of laws known as kanawai enforced the social order. Certain people, places, things, and times were sacred — they were kapu, or forbidden. Women ate apart from men and were restricted from eating pork, coconuts, bananas, or a variety of other foods. Kapu regulated fishing, planting, and the harvesting of other resources, thus ensuring their conservation. Any breaking of kapu disturbed the stability of society; the punishment often was death.

Village life was rich and varied: Hawaiians fished in coastal waters and collected shellfish, seaweed, and salt along the shore. They raised pigs, dogs, and chickens and harvested sweet potatoes, taro, and other crops. Men pounded taro into poi (the staple food of Hawaiians), while women beat the inner bark of wauke (paper mulberry) into kapa (bark cloth). They worshipped akua (gods) and `aumakua (guardian spirits) and chronicled their history through oli (chant), mele (song) and hula (dance). Over several hundred years the people of Hawai`i cultivated traditions that were passed on through generations. But the sounds of taro pounding and kapa beating, rhythmical signatures of Hawaiian village life, would change dramatically after Captain James Cook arrived in 1778 and introduced the rest of the world to Hawai`i.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/havo/learn/historyculture/native-hawaiians.htm

Park History

How Hawaii Volcanoes became a National Park

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a program developed by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal (1933) at the end of the Great Depression. The goal of the CCC was to provide young men with jobs during a time when many were unemployed, times were hard, and starvation was a concern. The program, also known as Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) employed men in many National and State Parks across the country from 1933-1942. Today, it is looked upon as one of the most successful New Deal programs. The ECW “brought together two wasted resources, the young men and the land, in an effort to save both.” Enrollees in the CCC became involved in projects that developed and conserved the nations Parks and forests, which had been neglected in previous years. Their projects were numerous, and included road and building construction, erosion control, masonry, fire fighting, trail maintenance, vegetation and insect control among many others. One of the main goals of the CCC was to renew the nations decimated forests. During the programs existence, an estimated 3 billion trees were planted throughout the country. The enrollees of the CCC did excellent and detailed work and the nations parks and forests became in part, what they are today through the labor of these dedicated men.

Within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, as well as many other parks and forests, much of the work that the CCC did is still evident and still in use. From the research offices to the hiking trails, the CCC laid the foundations for much of the infrastructure that we see and use today in the Park. Although the CCC accomplished many great tasks, this particular project focuses on their work done near Hilina Pali which is within the then called Hawaiʻi National Park (HNP). Due to flooding and massive erosion in this area the CCC undertook a project that required the quarrying of rocks to use in the construction of walls and dams in order to mitigate the problem. These structures can still be found today and many are still in excellent condition due to the skilled craftsmanship of the CCC enrollees. The walls and dams built in the early 1900s were relocated and recorded during a 1998 and 2002-2003 archeological inventory survey projects of which are included in part 1 and part 2 of an archeological inventory report.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/havo/learn/historyculture/civilian-conservation-corps.htm


The best things to do in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park


Evolving over 70 million years ago in nearly complete isolation, more than 90% of the state’s native flora are found only in the Hawaiian Islands

Along the wind-scoured coastal plain, the lone tendrils of an ʻae fern peer from cracks in endless flows of hardened lava. At the park’s mid-elevation, blazing blooms of ‘ohi’a trees and towering fronds of giant hapu’u, a tree fern, rise amid a tangle of misty rain forest. Miles above, the distinctive rosette of the endangered Mauna Loa silversword clings to an alpine ledge. Evolving over 70 million years ago in nearly complete isolation, more than 90% of the state’s native flora are found only in the Hawaiian Islands. Today, the park harbors the descendents of those first colonizers—numerous evolutionary marvels such as mintless mints and nettleless nettles—plants adapted to life without plant-eating mammals. These are just a few of the amazing diversity of plants living within the park.

Sadly, Hawai’i faces an ecological crisis. Plants that have survived for millennia now face tremendous threats from alien invasive plants and wildlife species, creating great challenges for resource managers. Within Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park are 23 species of endangered vascular plants including 15 species of endangered trees. The race to recover the park’s native landscapes and endangered plants is a major commitment of the Resources Management Division in terms of time and funds towards removal of alien ungulates such as mouflon sheep, removal of the most displacing invasive plants, planting of endangered plant populations and large-scale planting of natives in park landscapes that have been disturbed by ungulates or wildfire.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/havo/learn/nature/plants.htm

Animal Life

Most native animal species in the Hawaiian Archipelago are descendents of those that were able to fly here, such as birds, bats and insects; those light enough to be carried by birds, such as snails, some insects and spiders; and those blown here or washed ashore

Welcome to a world that shelters an array of Hawaiian native species including a host of fascinating birds, carnivorous caterpillars, the largest dragonfly in the United States, crickets partial to new lava flows, endangered sea turtles and just one native terrestrial mammal – a bat. Many organism groups common on continents never succeeded in making the journey to the Hawaiian Islands. Yet for those with the right survival strategy, these remote volcanic islands became a kind of evolutionary frontier for species who exploited new opportunities to find food and homes beginning about 70 million years ago. Most native animal species in the Hawaiian Archipelago are descendents of those that were able to fly here, such as birds, bats and insects; those light enough to be carried by birds, such as snails, some insects and spiders; and those blown here or washed ashore. Their descendents survived and reproduced to eventually inhabit every possible nook and cranny.

The Hawaiian Islands are renowned in the scientific world for evolving the most spectacular land bird assemblage on a remote oceanic archipelago. Of the 23 surviving endemic Hawaiian songbird species, those living within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park include six Hawaiian honeycreepers; ‘apapane, ‘amakihi, ‘i‘iwi, and three federally listed as endangered; ‘akepa, ‘akiapola‘au, and the Hawai‘i creeper. There are also a native thrush (‘oma‘o) and a native monarch (‘elepaio). Another three species of endemic Hawaiian birds found within the Park are also endangered; the nēnē, or Hawaiian goose, ‘Ua’u or Hawaiian petrel, and ‘io or Hawaiian hawk.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/havo/learn/nature/animals.htm

Hiking Trails

The best hiking trails in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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