Kalapana Lava Flow

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Phone (808) 985-6000
Address 99-165 Crater Rim Dr, Volcano, HI 96785
Beautiful lava flow at Volcanoes National Park.

• General: Photo Opportunity • Hiking: Hiking • Hiking: Nature Walk • Sightseeing: Volcano / Lava Flow • Tours: Guided
• Tours: Self Guided

The lava flow can be viewed about 5 miles east from the end of Chain of Craters Road. The hike takes about 2 hours at a moderate pace. The lava can also be viewed from the same road on the other side, which is about a 4-5 mile hike west of Kalapana off 130.

It's a changing scene - a few days before we arrived, you'd need to hike an additional half mile north on hardened lava to see the flow. As of August 2016, it flows south across the road to the ocean.

A few things to keep in mind.

1. It's a long walk. The hike from either side of the lava flow is 5 miles EACH way, so take good hiking shoes, a hat water, a snack, and perhaps a walking pole. The round trip took us all of 5 hours. Hiking midday can be downright punishing, so consider taking the hike at dusk.

2. Know your children. If you have a child with the stamina for a long trek, then you shouldn't have a problem. But I saw several parents carrying their kiddos piggyback. I heard a couple of children whining and crying about the hike being so long. So if that sounds like fun, go ahead.

3. Be respectful. The volcanic lava flow is sacred to the Hawaiians, and I saw several people with marshmallows on sticks. Not cool guys. On the contrary, there was a man who put a tea leaf offering into the flow, which was acceptable and touching.

4. Lava flows can be dangerous. You are allowed to get right up next to the lava flow. I mean, you could literally fall into it if you're not careful. The ranger said that he's seen people poke a stick into the lava and accidentally fling it out hitting another spectator. As I was standing with my camera about 6 feet away, the radiating heat was so strong, I needed to back off after a 30 seconds or so.

5. Viewing time can be equally spectacular. During the day, it's safer to visit since you can see where you're walking on the hardened lava. You can also see the surroundings better and get a solid perspective of the flow. But in the evening, the lava illuminates in a marvelous way. It's harder to take pictures in the evening, but if you're a shutterbug, you'll get some incredible shots. Consider setting your camera to night mode.

Be respectful, be careful, and enjoy one of nature's most spectacular events.