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“A don't miss”
Review of Crater Rim Drive

Crater Rim Drive
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Volcano National Park Small Group Twilight Tour
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Kilauea Volcano Bike Tour
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Owner description: An 11-mile scenic drive within Volcanoes National Park
Reviewed 31 August 2013

The Crater Rim drive at HNVP is a must do. Again- if you are doing HNVP- you really need at LEAST 2 days to do all the major sites. The Crater Rim drive is easy to get to - just follow the well marked signs. Along the way you will pass many craters from earlier eruptions- there are pull outs that allow you to easily explore these. ALong this road is the access to the Petroglyphs. The petroglys are about a 30 min. hike over lava - sneakers recommended! Lava can be sharp and full of crevices that can easily cut or turn an ankle. The fields are surrounded by a boardwalk, but look carefully and you will see glyphs in lots of places. There is no shade here as it is right smack dab in the middle of a lava field- so bring some water. The Sea Hole Arch is awesome at the end of the road. Take some time to walk down the paved road where the lava has crossed. Scramble about 1/2 way over the flow and take the iconic picture of the road sign buried in lave: Road Closed. This is about a 25 mile drive along twisty roads so you need to allow about 2-3 hours or more depending on how much you explore the area. At the Sea Hole Arch there are port-a-potties and a snack shack.

1  Thank KAJMJPM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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22 - 26 of 29 reviews

Reviewed 21 August 2012

If you have just 24 hours to spend in the fabulous Volcano National Park, this is the place to start. Upon entering the park from Hwy.11, stop at the Kilauea Visitor Center for info from rangers and park volunteers, to see (or purchase) trail maps and souvenirs, or to use a clean restroom. If you make just a quick stop, at least pick up the free, one-page "Points of Interest" brochure - it has more detail than the brochure at the entrance gate and contains info on lava viewings outside the park ("Where Can I See Lava?") along with lava viewing hotline numbers.

Once you leave the Visitor Center, go northwest/ take a right on Crater Rim - or leave your car in the lot, cross the road and walk toward Volcano House (closed for renovations when we were there) where you can pick up a trail that roughly follows the road west all the way to Jagger Museum (a long walk) or southeast to Thurston Lava Tube (about half as far). If you walk northwest, make sure to cross the road (back to the north side) so as not to miss the Sulphur Banks and Steam Vents.

We opted to drive and park at the Steam Vents parking lot (you'll see the steam) and afterwards cross the road and walk backward to the Sulphur Banks. This is an easy walk (under a mile round trip - wheelchair/ stroller accessible). The steam vents are cracks in the volcano-hot earth where dew and rainwater produce steam - it's not toxic but it's HOT (duh), so don't stick your face in there, and stay on the path or risk getting stuck in a scalding crack. There's a Kilauea Crater overlook (cool photo-op) that's really WINDY, so hold on to your hat. My favorite part was the Sulphur Banks, a boardwalked area past colorful volcanic mineral deposits - it reminded me of Yellowstone, not only in the way the smelly sulphur ooze paints the crystalline landscape, but in the way it creates an awareness of travelling over a LIVE volcano - spooky. This is another time not to stick your face the wrong place or get off the path.

Then we drove further northwest past the military camp on the right and the overlook/ picnic area on the left to park at the Jagger Museum, which has some fascinating Kilauea info - topograhical maps, live seismic reads, and a bookstore/ gift shop - clean restrooms here too. The real draw of course is the live volcano, Kilauea, exhaling enormous white clouds of steam and toxic vapors. When we visited, it was windy and chilly even on a July day, so take a jacket. Due to the wind, no vapors bothered us as we studied and photographed Kilauea's awesomeness, but the road beyond the museum is closed indefinitely due high levels of toxic gas drifting in that area - this is the end of the line.

That is unless you visited Jagger during the day as we did - then come back after dark for a different and surreal view of Kilauea. The park is open 24-7 (though the Visitor Center closes at 5 and Museum at 6 or 7) - go anytime it's dark, and it is really dark so take a flashlight. It's even windier and colder (extra layers), but what a view! The cloud-mountains over the crater were still there, but centered over the crater was a fiery red glow with a harsh and brilliant sun-yellow epicenter - the nighttime colors show up great on a camera.

If you have any extra time in the daylight, retrace your steps past the Visitor Center; don't leave the park, but continue southeast on Crater Rim to the Kilauea Iki Crater Overlook (the trail is amazing but long - save that for another day), to the Thurston Lava Tube (1/2 mile easy loop - fascinating - more clean restrooms), or to Devastation Trail (easy mile round trip). If you have more days, try Chain of Craters Road, but that's another story. Enjoy!

10  Thank dneumann
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 November 2016
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Thank kiyo333
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 April 2016
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Thank liviaugusta7
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Reviewed 9 October 2015
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