HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK The highlights
The Kilauea Visitor Center -- a good starting point just inside the park, where visitors can obtain brochures and maps and get an orientation to the park through movies, auditorium talks and short ranger-narrated walks. Open 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
The Volcano House Hotel -- offers a panoramic overview of the 21/2-mile-wide, 400-foot deep Kilauea caldera from its restaurant and snack bar and a walking path outside. This vantage point, a short walk from the visitors center, is about 4,000 feet above sea level.
Halemaumau Crater -- the heart of the volcano, a steaming crater located along Crater Rim Drive.
Devastation Trail -- located along Crater Rim Drive, a fairly level one-mile round-trip walk on a paved path through the stark landscape, where life is returning through the cinders after a 1959 eruption.
Thurston Lava Tube -- also located along Crater Rim Drive -- a tunnel in the rain forest through which lava once flowed. The lighted portion and a dark extension, which requires a flashlight at all times, extend about a quarter mile.
Current red-hot lava flows -- can be reached following a shadeless one-mile walk over rock formed by recent lava flows. The walk begins after one drives to the point where a 1995 lava flow blocked Chain of Craters Road near sea level. A ranger is on duty at the end of the walk to offer the latest information and safety advice.
A hat, sunscreen, drinking water, good closed-toed walking shoes and a flashlight after sundown are essential for this hike. Any rock that has a silvery appearance must be avoided because it is still extremely hot.