Hawaii Volcanoes National Park set to reopen Saturday
This Saturday will mark a new beginning for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. More than 130 days since explosions, ash plumes and earthquakes forced it to close, and now the park is set to reopen.
This Saturday will mark a new beginning for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. More than 130 days since explosions, ash plumes and earthquakes forced it to close, the park is set to reopen.
A majority of the national park has been closed to the public since May 11th, due to volcanic and seismic activity at the summit of Kilauea. Since then, the landscape has changed, and parts of the park are damaged, including the Jaggar Museum which is now deserted.
But quakes and collapses at Kilauea's Summit have quieted in recent weeks, so much so that on September 22, parts of the park will open once again.
The following areas are expected to reopen on Saturday at 10 a.m.:
• Kilauea Visitor Center (closes at 5 p.m.)
• Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association store at Kilauea Visitor Center (closes at 5 p.m.)
• Crater Rim Trail between Volcano House and Kilauea Military Camp
• Sulphur Banks Trail
• Crater Rim Drive to Steam Vents
• Kilauea Iki Overlook and parking lot
• Devastation Trail and Pu‘u Pua‘i
• Crater Rim Drive to Keanakako‘i Crater, for pedestrians and bicyclists only
• Mauna Loa Road to Kipukapuaulu. The road will be open to pedestrians and bicyclists past Kipukapuaulu
• Sections of Escape Road from Highway 11
• Chain of Craters Road
Hazards still exist so visitors are asked to be cautious of their surroundings and adhere to park officials. For the first time in many years, park officials say there is no molten lava to see in the park. Still heavy traffic, long lines and big crowds are expected for Saturday, and that has businesses in Volcano hopeful for whats to come.
"There is a great deal of optimism with everyone that we're going to be open. Things are going to be moving ahead," Volcano Art Center's executive director, Mike Nelson said. "We're going to go full force Saturday morning at 10 o'clock."
Businesses, like Volcano Art Center, say they're gearing up in hopes that visitors and customers will return. The art gallery usually operates out of the original building that used to be Volcano House, but Nelson says they haven't been able to do so the park closed to the public in May. He says that closure resulted in about a 90 percent loss in income. Nelson tells Island News being able to return to business inside the park represents a big step forward. "It will not be the same park that it has been in the past.. nor do we anticipate that the volume and revenues will be the same in the past.. but we're not losing hope," Nelson added.
Volcano House, the hotel located within the national park, will also partially reopen on Saturday. Reservations are now being accepted for stays starting on October 6th.
Meanwhile, Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant says it had to cut back its employees hours, but now with the park set to reopen optimism is back.
"We're very excited to hopefully have that turn around and give hours back to employees, and have visitors return to Volcano," Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant's general manager, Janet Coney said.
The park will reopen on National Public Lands Day, September 22nd at 10 a.m. It is a fee-free day. Visitors are recommended to wear sturdy shoes, long pants, bring protective eye wear, an N-95 mask and 3-4 ounces of water, since there are areas in the park with no drinkable water. For more information, visit Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.