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National Park
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Volcano National Park Visitor Center

When you pay your $10 they give you a very nice brochure, but almost everyone goes to the visitor center where they have displays, information, and of course, lots of things you can buy. The displays are about eruptions and of natural flora and fauna since there are no human cultures here.

The park is only 30 miles from Hilo (95 miles from Kona). Since the park requires at least a day (and a night) to see properly it is best to stay no further than Hilo.

This picture is from the path to the Volcano House Hotel that you have to see!

Mark Twain

The great American author was here! He stayed in Volcano House and saw the sights. He also wrote about his adventures which are usually histerically funny and littered with very informative asides.

Note that these days the caldera is not bubbling as he says it was then. But he went down into the caldera even then!

More on Mark Twain!

Mark Twain's Online texts!

Informative Signs

It is wonderful to just motor through the park from site to site indicated on the brochure that you got at the gate. There are convenient and spacious areas to drive into to see various features. Usually it is not very crowded so you feel a little like it is your park.

As you tour the major attractions, you will find informative signs that help you to understand the area you are in.

On the short path between the visitor center and Volcano House, amazingly, is this steam vent immediately informing you how close you are to the fires of the earth. It will fog up your camera!

Lord Byron

Here are the words of another famous author (from England) who traveled to the far end of the the earth and recorded his impressions of what he saw.

The caldera has filled considerably since his day because now the 1300 feet, as he describes it, has shrunk to approximately 450.

Although you will encounter escaping (sulphur) gases as you wander way over to the west side of the caldera, presently there is no visible molton magma here. All the action of the present (and very active) flow is about 15 miles east of here at the Pu'u'o'o vent.

The Lush Rainforest Canape

When you are on the east side of the caldera that includes the visitor center and volcano house, you are actually in a rainforest! As you hike down the trail to the bottom of the caldera, it is a very delightful experience as you see here. The canopy is formed mostly of the beautiful native, red-flowering ohia trees and a lush undergrowth of ferns.

What is amazing is that as soon as you venture out of this canape and walk toward Halemaumau, you are in a desert!