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Searing-hot gases rise from a giant volcanic crater called a caldera on Hawai‘i’s Big Island. Beneath the caldera’s rim, a lake of lava bubbles and steams. This is Kīlauea, one of two active volcanoes at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. The other is called Mauna Loa. These lava-spewing formations help make the park the perfect spot for visitors who have, um, a burning desire to see cool geological activity.
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park was founded in 1916. Today more than 1.5 million tourists arrive each year to check out Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. After all, these lava-spewing peaks are two of the most active volcanoes on Earth. In fact, Kīlauea has been continuously erupting since 1983! Tourists can watch the volcanic activity from a safe lookout point on a bluff about 400 feet above the Kīlauea’s caldera.
In addition to seeing Kīlauea’s steaming summit, visitors to the park can walk across lava fields—flat expanses of land made of hardened lava. Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park also includes greener scenery. Lush rain forests grow on parts of Kīlauea’s slopes.
Volcanoes aren’t the only things that make a visit to this park a total blast. The area is home to animals such as the nene goose, carnivorous caterpillars, and the happy face spider—an arachnid with a pattern on its abdomen that resembles a smiley face. Sounds like there are a lot of things to grin about at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park!
Text by Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh