We arrived at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park late in the afternoon and it was pouring rain! There wasn’t much we could do in the rain, so we pulled into the Kīlauea Visitor Center parking lot and ducked under the outdoor cover.
The walls were covered with interpretive displays providing information on things to do and see in the national park, as well as maps to each attraction and scenic stop. We also had the opportunity to chat with a super friendly ranger who shared tons of inside information and tips with us to help make sure we didn’t miss anything on our trip.
We then went inside the visitor center to grab Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park brochure and map, check out the inside displays, and watch a short film called Born of Fire… Born of the Sea. We also stopped in the bookstore to check out the t-shirts, keychains, and Christmas ornaments before heading across the street to our hotel, the historic Volcano House.
I am so happy we stopped in the Visitor Center first!
We only had three days in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and wanted to make the most of it. By stopping in the Visitor Center at the end of the day when we arrived, we got the low down on the whole park to maximize our time. We also no longer needed to stop there the next morning, so we were able to set out on our first adventure of the day bright and early.
Now I had done a ton of research in advance and had mapped out all the things to do in the park, in order that they appear on the main roads. If you’re not into that level of pre-planning, the Kīlauea Visitor Center is the perfect first stop so you can make a plan with help from a ranger. It’s also the place to learn about the volcanic lava and gases, winds, and park closures.
Know Before You Go
- The Kīlauea Visitor Center is located on Crater Rim Drive a short distance from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park entrance station on the Island of Hawai’i. It is 30 miles southwest of Hilo, 96 miles south east of Kailua-Kona.
- Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was established on August 1, 1916 as the 15th National Park. It was designated an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980 and a World Heritage Site in 1987.
- Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day year-round, including all holidays.
- The Kīlauea Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, however, hours are subject to change due to volcanic activity. The Volcano Art Center Gallery, located next to the Visitor Center, is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
- A 25 minute film, Born of Fire… Born of the Sea, is shown in the Kīlauea Visitor Center every hour throughout the day with the last showing at 4:00 pm.
- Accessible restrooms, water fountains, and phones are available at the Visitor Center — there is very little cell service in the park.
- Watch for warning signs. Volcanic fumes are hazardous to your health. Visitors with health problems, infants, young children, and pregnant women should avoid Halema’uma’u Crater, the Sulfur Banks, and other areas where volcanic fumes are present.