Celebrate a Century of Hawaii’s National Parks
The National Park Service turns 100 years old in 2016. Sharing the milestone are two of Hawaii’s most spectacular parks: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii Island and Maui’s Haleakala National Park. While each offers a distinct visitor experience—with unique terrain to explore and plants and animals to discover—both are celebrating the centennial with a year of exciting, family-friendly events that make it easy to experience the natural beauty of the Aloha State.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Gain an appreciation for the sheer power of nature at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Home of Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on earth, this breathtaking spot is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Hawaii, as well as a sacred place for Native Hawaiians. Located 30 miles southwest of Hilo, the park encompasses over 333,000 acres, stretching from the summit of Mauna Loa all the way to the sea. Lace up your hiking boots and bring plenty of water, because this park boasts 150 miles of trails that traverse the volcanic crater, arid deserts, rainforests, and even a walk-in lava tube.
Every month this year, the park is marking its birthday with its Centennial Series After Dark in the Park program and corresponding guided hikes. Through both lectures and hands-on exploration, this unique program examines the issues facing the park today, from endangered sea turtles and landscape restoration to the management of invasive species. On May 15-16, the park will host the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival. Join the fun as teams of scientists, Hawaiian cultural practitioners, students, and the public discover and inventory as many plants and creatures as possible before enjoying science and cultural exhibits, food, art, and entertainment.
But you don’t need to wait for a special occasion to visit. Go with the experts at Hawaii Forest & Trail and greet the dawn atop Mauna Kea by ascending to the summit of the world’s tallest volcano in a private SUV. On this Priceless Experience, an expert guide will teach you all about the volcano and the significance of this sacred place in Hawaiian Culture.
Haleakala National Park
It’s hard to miss Haleakala National Park. Spanning 30,000 acres, it stretches across Maui’s southern and eastern shore, and the slopes of this dormant volcano are visible from most of the island. The centerpiece of the park is Haleakala Crater, which rises over 10,000 feet above sea level. Haleakala means “house of the sun” in Hawaiian, so it’s apropos that sunrises and sunsets at this altitude will leave you speechless. While you’re here, enjoy a glimpse of rare native birds and plants, a hand-on experience with Hawaiian culture, a walk through a bamboo forest, or a hike in a moonscape-like setting while the sun warms you. Haleakala has ranger-guided programs, lots of hiking trails and drive-up camping, as well as remote camping in the backcountry, and its Centennial Celebration features monthly interpretive programs and other festivities.
As part of the Centennial Celebration, all national parks will waive entrance fees on certain days throughout 2016. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will offer one additional fee-free day on August 1 in celebration of its own 100th birthday.
April 16-24: National Park Week (nine fee-free days)
Aug. 1: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park 100th birthday
Aug. 25-28: National Park Service Birthday Weekend (four fee-free days)
Sept. 24: National Public Lands Day
Nov. 11: Veterans Day