Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Makes Plans to Re-Open

News coming out of Hawaii is that Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park will soon be able to reopen after several months of closures due to volcanic eruptions.

If you haven’t heard, major earthquakes and lava eruptions from the Kilauea Volcano have kept most of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park temporarily off limits to visitors for the last three months.

Between May and August, 62 collapse-explosion events at the summit of Kīlauea produced scores of rockfall and fractured park overlooks, trails, waterlines, parking lots and roads. During the last several weeks two hurricanes threatened the park, and a damaging wildfire burned nearly 3,800 acres of native forest on Mauna Loa.

Now that volcanic activity has subsided, the park plans to reopen in time for National Public Lands Day near the end of September. It has been closed since early May.

This comes as good news to us at Backcountry Journeys as we travel to Hawaii each January for our Big Island of Hawaii Tour, which focuses our lenses on, among other amazing things, those slopes of Mauna Loa, Kilauea, and the rest of Volcanoes National Park. So, it is certainly great to hear the Park will be open for us, come January!

A recent announcement from the Park indicates that progress is being made with emergency repairs and parts of the park should be on schedule to open by 10 a.m. on Sat., Sept. 22, which is National Public Lands Day, a fee free day at Public lands like National Parks and Monuments.

The prime attraction will be Halemaumau Crater, a popular spot at the Park that featured a glowing, sputtering lake of lava. With the red-hot lava sucked out in recent months, a massive, gaping hole – 1,500 feet deep in places – has formed. Viewing of the crater will shift from the west to the east side, since the overlook at Jaggar Museum, and the museum itself, were badly damaged by volcano-related earthquakes. The rim will be accessible by a one-mile walk along a road that has been closed to vehicles for several years.

Chain of Craters Road, a winding road that passes through old fields of hardened, black lava, will be open all the way to the Pacific Ocean. However, most of Crater Rim Drive will be off-limits due to major damage.

Next week, the park will announce opportunities for volunteers to assist with recovery efforts, and begin recruitment.

A new Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park “Recovery” webpage is now available to share updates and photos with the public. If you are interested, or if you live in Hawaii and visit and want to share: https://www.nps.gov/havo/recovery.htm. Share with us here, too, in the comments section of this blog post.

Join Backcountry Journeys this year for our annual Photographic Tour of Hawaii’s Big Island! We’ll head out to check out the changes at the Park, and more. Our itinerary will show you the best Hawaii has to offer, and we’ll all leave with a stunning collection of new photographs for our portfolios.

Have no fear that our Hawaii trip this January 13-19 tour will go as planned, and spots on that trip still remain!

One of the highlights of this excursion will be a journey to the summit of Mauna Kea to view and photograph the powerful sunset on Hawaii’s highest peak – usually snow covered in the winter months. The views from Mauna Kea out over the Pacific Ocean and above the clouds are otherworldly – as are the opportunities to photograph the Milky Way from its lofty summit.

Kenton Krueger







Kenton Krueger has spent the past several years guiding guiding backpackers, hikers and photographers into the wild places of the American West such as Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks as well as in the Grand Staircase Escalante in southern Utah. In addition to backpacking and camping, his adventures include rock climbing, exploring the slot canyons of southern Utah, mountain biking, and bagging 14ers in Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Mountain Range. Kenton is a trail runner, former pilot, newspaper photographer and writer. Kenton looks forward to utilizing his years of guiding experience, combined with his passion and experience behind the lens to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences at the wild places we will visit together.

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