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Lava Viewing 2017

Kona
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Lava Viewing 2017

New coastal lava viewing area has opened as of January 3 2017:

Hawaii National Park, HI – Park rangers opened a newly established lava viewing area at the Kamokuna ocean entry in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park today, following a two-day closure caused by a large lava delta collapse on New Year’s Eve.

The new viewing area is approximately 900 feet east of a cascade of lava pouring into the ocean, and about 60 feet inland of the coastal cliffs. Rangers, in conjunction with USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists, thoroughly assessed the area, and established the new viewing site with white rope lines and numerous signs that clearly mark hazardous closed areas.

Visitors are strongly urged to stay out of closed areas and heed all posted warning signs and park rangers.

“Visitors who do not heed warnings not only endanger themselves but the lives of others, including our park rangers, who work tirelessly to ensure a safe visitor experience,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.

After the delta collapse on New Year’s Eve, a group of five visitors ignored rangers and warning signs and slipped beneath the white rope lines into a closed area at the coast. Two park rangers had to chase after them, and made them turn around – 15 minutes before the area they were standing on collapsed into the ocean.

In addition to the threat of another land collapse, the toxic plume of volcanic particles and acidic gas generated by lava mixed with ocean water is very dangerous, and irritates the lungs, skin and eyes. Land collapses, which trigger tsunami-like waves, and the toxic gas plume, are also a serious threat to aircraft and boats. There is currently a 1,000-foot above-ground-level temporary flight restriction at Kamokuna.

HVO scientists estimate that nearly all of the 26-acre lava delta is now gone, along with more than four acres of older coastal cliff area, which included the former lava viewing site. The collapse on New Year’s Eve started in the afternoon and lasted several hours, creating blasts of volcanic rock and a series of damaging waves, in addition to a thick, dark plume of debris and gas.

It is closer from the east entrance to reach the new lava viewing area within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. From the east, or Kalapana/County of Hawai‘i side, visitors must hike about 4.2 miles one way along the gravel emergency access road. This entrance is open daily from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. From the park, or west side, visitors can hike out from the Coastal Ranger Station at the end of Chain of Craters Road, about five miles one-way. About one mile of the hike goes inland of the gas plume over hardened, uneven lava flows. The park entrance is open 24 hours a day.

Hikers need to be prepared for a long trek. Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes or boots, gloves to protect the hands, and long pants to protect against lava rock abrasions. Carry plenty of water (three to four quart/liters per person). Wear sunblock, sunglasses and a hat. Visitors who plan to stay after dark need a flashlight and/or headlight with extra batteries.

Edited: 04 January 2017, 21:18
367 replies to this topic
Kelowna, Canada
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1. Re: Lava Viewing 2017

Thanx for the update wahine

Ontario, Canada
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2. Re: Lava Viewing 2017

Went there this evening from Kalapana. Rented the bikes and set out at 1730, arriving at the viewpoint for 1800. It was perfect timing as people started flooding the area soon after. It was tough to see more than a fiery glow amongst the steam which improved as it got dark and with binoculars. Then the most amazing thing happened... all of a sudden the source spewing the lava expanded and it sent the flow in all directions off the wall and was still doing so when it left. This expansion made the viewing 100 times better - truly spectacular. The oohs and ahhs in amazement from the crowd was confirmation this was the best thing many had ever seen.

Suffice it to say, you need to do this. And rent the bikes. It was painful imagining the 8 mile round trip hikers had to make on foot.

Edited: 06 January 2017, 09:00
Toronto
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3. Re: Lava Viewing 2017

A little bit more expensive than the bikes, you can get a shuttle ride to the Gate 2 on the gravel road from Kalpana to the lava exit point. From Gate 2, the exit point is about 2 miles, so it cuts the walking part by half.

Oahu, Hawaii
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4. Re: Lava Viewing 2017

Are you referring to the white van that sometimes wanders up and down the road?

.

Kind of seems like 'cheating'....

Toronto
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5. Re: Lava Viewing 2017

There are a bunch of vehicles ranging from vans to multi-passenger ATVs that the bike renters at Kalpana uses. One could consider taking those as cheating, but given that the round trip is a 8 mile hike, halving that is a really useful for some who may not be able to make it on foot or on a bike or is pressed for time. Unlike at South Point, they are not illegal and nor they encroach on anyone's private land. They use the gravel road.

We had a time constrain to meet so we used an ATV to get to Gate 2. It is still a 4 mile round trip from that point.

Detroit, Michigan
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6. Re: Lava Viewing 2017

I plan on doing this trip next week. While I'm willing to walk the ~8 miles, I'd much prefer saving my energy for other hikes...

I think the bike rental price is quite reasonable. However, is there concern about bike thief once we get to the end of the road? I think most/everybody just leave the bikes on the ground and walk the rest of the way? Or do they have to push the bikes the rest of the distance (what is that distance?)

How much are the shuttles (each way) approximately? do I have to take a return trip, or can I take it only coming back to the parking lot?

Toronto
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7. Re: Lava Viewing 2017

The bikes were about $20 each to rent and the shuttle was $30 per person. In the shuttle they drop you off at Gate 2 and when you come back to Gate 2 after the viewing you phone them and they come and pick you up. I don't think you can take only the return trip.

if you are using the bikes, you leave them at the road at the viewing area and walk on the rough lava flows to the edge to see the lava exit point. That walk is is short, may be 50 meters (yards). You cannot push the bikes on the lava. There was probably 100 bikes parked on the road that evening when we were there and yes we were wondering how you could figure out which one you rented. May be they were numbered. We would have used the bikes instead of the shuttle, but one in our party did not ride bikes.

Also remember that if you are going there after sunset, you absolutely need flashlights to walk through the lava field after you leave the road.

Edited: 06 January 2017, 15:38
Washington
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8. Re: Lava Viewing 2017

If you take the shuttle and do the walk, is the walk 2 miles over lava bed or road? We are seniors and don't mind walking 4 miles RT but not 8. Just wondering how difficult it will be to walk back after dark if it is uneven. .How do you contact the shuttle company to arrange this, do they have a website?

Detroit, Michigan
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9. Re: Lava Viewing 2017

Thanks Laviniam, $30 is a little steep, but I guess it is good to have that option. I'll decide if I will walk or take the shuttle when I get there next week.

BTW, after dark, does the bikes have lights or am I riding one-handed? (one hand with flashlight)?

Toronto
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10. Re: Lava Viewing 2017

If you take the shuttle, the 2 mile walk is still on the gravel road which is mostly flat so walking is not an issue at all. It is the last 50 or so yards that you are on the rough lava. Whether you rent a bike or go in the shuttle, each person will get a LED flashlight that can be worn on your forehead like a miners lamp. So you have both hands free. You are also given a complementary bottle of water.

Yes, I admit that $30 for the shuttle is steep. But we were pressed for time and my wife does not ride a bike. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and most likely we will not go that way again, so all in all, for us it was the right choice.

When you get to Kalpana and to the end of the derivable road (where HWY 130 ends). Ask the people who are supervising the car park area. They will direct you. They are all very well setup, the roadside "camps" will rent you the bikes, arrange a shuttle, sell you drinks and snacks and even tee-shirts. They are set up to accept credit cards. Even to take the shuttle, we had to sign a waiver.

Edited: 06 January 2017, 18:31
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