How to get close to Hawaii's massive, erupting volcano

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By now you've probably heard the hot news (pardon the pun) from Hawaii—a new vent opened up in the Kilauea volcano this past Sunday, making way for lava spikes of up to 65 feet high. (Kilauea has been erupting on Hawaii's Big Island since January 3, 1983, making it one of the most active volcanoes on Earth.)

If you've ever wanted to witness one of nature's most dangerous and awe-inspiring displays of power, now is your chance. Check out this Associated Press video of the eruption here and then keep scrolling for two places in Hawaii where you can safely view the recent volcanic eruption.

Watch it:


(Courtesy, Associated Press.)

According to an article by the Los Angeles Times, trails and other areas close to the vent could still be dangerous, so hikers and other curious on-lookers are encouraged to proceed with caution. Because of a potential threat of hazardous gases—like sulfur dioxide—Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has closed nearby attractions, including the Chain of Craters Road and Kulanaokuaiki campground, as scientists continue to monitor eruptions.

Luckily, there are still two spots where visitors can safely view the latest lava show—from both inside and outside the park:

Stop by the Jaggar Museum, open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m, for a great view from within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Visitors are welcomed to watch from the museum's patio. After enjoying a beautiful Hawaiian sunset, you'll be able to see the lava light up the dark, rocky landscape.

If you're feeling a bit more adventurous, check out Kalapana, located just outside the park at the end of Highway 130. From the parking area, it is roughly a mile walk over a lava field that buried the small town of Kalapana back in 1990 (Don't worry, it has cooled over the last 20 years and is hard enough to walk on). The site is open to visitors from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m, but be sure to bring a flashlight if you plan to visit at night. It is also recommended that visitors wear covered shoes and long pants—lava rocks can be sharp—and stick to the trails as the the lava field can be difficult to navigate for those who are not used to such versatile terrain. For a spectacular view of the lava, visit closer to sundown and bring a flashlight for the walk back.

Before you head out, remember to call the "Lava Hotline" at [808] 961-8093 to make sure conditions are safe and the site is open for the day.

My family visited Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Kalapana back in the summer of 1999 but we weren't lucky enough to catch a live eruption. How about you? Have you ever seen a volcano up close?


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