OUR NATIONAL PARKS
A guide to Hawaii Volcanoes and Haleakala
The park is open all year. Part of it (down by the ocean) is how mainlanders imagine Hawaii to be -- i.e. a coastal plain that's usually hot and dusty with surf aroar and beaches neatly spread. Up 4,000 feet at Kilauea Caldera, though, the weather can bluster like a day in the North Woods -- rainy and downright chilly at its worst. Pack slickers, sweaters, jackets, hats and sturdy shoes. Drink lots of water, apply sunscreen and wear a hat.
The same applies: Open all year, potentially brisk -- even snowy -- near the top and warm down below. Plus, at the sea level portion of the park, mosquitoes appreciate the Kipahulu area just as much as you will, so bring the bug spray.
LODGING AND DINING
The only lodge, Volcano House, eschews Hawaiian thatched-hut charm in favor of the log-chalet construction typical of most National Park Service concessions. Twenty rooms allow views of the yawning caldera and go for $131, double or single occupancy (prices could change without notice), plus the 10.17 percent state hotel tax. People looking at the parking lot from the other 22 units pay $79, plus tax.
Food and menu prices at the lodge lean toward the heavy side, but most dishes seemed to be carefully prepared (judging by the wait), tasty enough and generously proportioned. A gift shop and big-screen TV in the bar serve as post-prandial entertainment. Write P.O. Box 53, Hawaii National Park, Hawaii 96718. Phone: 808-967-7321. Fax: 808-967-8429.
Volcano Village, just outside the park, holds a few housing units -- including bed-and-breakfasts -- as well as a handful of restaurants.
There are two drive-in campgrounds with water, restrooms, picnic pavilions and fireplaces (no wood) at Namakani Paio -- near Hawaii 11 and the caldera -- and at Kipuka Nene, off Hilina Pall Road. Primitive camps have been spaced along the trails. All are free, first-come, first-served and limited to stays of seven days per campground per year.
Yes, they have no hotels or concessions in the park, which is primitive almost to the max. If you want table service and drinks with umbrellas, hit the resorts. Towns around the base do provide some comforts, particularly a full stomach and a brimming gas tank.
Two campgrounds, one at Hosmer Grove near the start of the summit highway and the other in the Kipahulu section, may be used without a permit. They have picnic tables, barbecue grills and outdoor pit toilets. The two wilderness campgrounds and three wilderness cabins do require permits.
The cabins, which hold parties of up to a dozen and demand hikes of 4 to 10 miles, cost from $40 to $80, depending upon the number of users. To enter a lottery for reservations, write to the park (address below) and send it in an envelope marked "Attention Cabins" at least 90 days before your trip. Include cabin choices in order of preference and, if possible, list alternate dates. The more flexible you can be, the more likely this lottery will pay off. To make a stab at last-minute cancellations, call the park between 1 and 3 p.m.
Facilities and scenic overlooks adjacent to Crater Rim Drive are wheelchair accessible. See personnel at the Kilauea Visitor Center for details on accessible pathways and activities.
Along the summit highway, wheelchair-accessible facilities are available at park headquarters, Haleakala Visitor Center, Hosmer Grove picnic area and Kalahaku overlook. The Kipahulu area has accessible parking and restrooms near the ranger station and a paved trail leading to the station. All other trails in the park are unsuitable for wheelchair use.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, P.O. Box 52, Hawaii National Park, Hawaii 96718-0052. Phone (7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hawaiian Standard Time) 808-985-6000. Fax: 808-967-8186. Eruption information (24 hours): 808-985-6000.
- Haleakala National Park, P.O. Box 369, Makawao, Hawaii 96768. Phone: 808-572-9306.
Both parks are linked to the National Park Service World Wide Web site: www.nps.gov/