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Park officials warn of traffic, limited parking at Kilauea summit, especially on Tuesdays

  • COURTESY NPS

    The volume of visitors has gone up this summer, but the number of parking spots has not, leading to frustration and an uptick in illegal parking citations, park officials said.

Officials from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park are warning visitors that the number of parking spots at popular areas along Kilauea volcano’s summit remain limited this summer, particularly on Tuesdays.

The volume of visitors has gone up this summer, but the number of parking spots has not, leading to frustration and an uptick in illegal parking citations, park officials said.

“On Tuesdays, expect to find zero parking at the summit destinations between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.,” said Chief of Interpretation Ben Hayes in a news release. “It’s not unusual for traffic to be backed out onto Highway 11 from the entrance station.”

On Tuesdays, passengers from the Pride of America cruise ship from Hilo often drive up to explore attractions at the park, including the steam vents, Devastation Trail and Kilauea Visitor Center.

Some areas of the park remain closed due to damage from the 2018 Kilauea eruption, leading to crowds at many of the open park attractions.

“We want our visitors to leave with smiles, photos and memories that will last a lifetime, not a parking ticket or a negative experience,” said Hayes.

To help, HVNP has launched a new web page to show the total number of parking spaces, and busy times, at popular locations throughout the day.

While many areas near the summit are congested, officials noted, almost all of the sights along Chain of Craters Road often have ample parking around the clock.

Park rangers offer the following tips:

>> Adopt “Turn Left Tuesday.” Get into the left lane, and turn left at the entrance station to head down the 19-mile Chain of Craters Road towards the park’s dramatic lava-covered coast to avoid the crowds. Stop at the crater pullouts along the way, explore Mauna Ulu fissure eruption and Pu‘u Loa Petroglyphs, and enjoy scenic overlooks and the Holei Sea Arch.

>> Planning to hike Kilauea Iki Trail? This four-mile trek is one of the most scenic and popular trails in the park. Plan to hit the trail by 7 a.m., and be out by 10 a.m.

>> Mauna Loa Road is well worth exploring during peak hours, especially in good weather. Kipukapuaulu offers an easy, forested hike, and the views and birding are excellent along the way to the Mauna Loa Overlook at 6,662 feet.

>> Visit Kahuku. The Kahuku Unit is free, never crowded, and open to the public Wednesday through Sunday. Located on the mauka (inland) side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5 in Ka‘ū.

>> Timing is Everything. Explore the summit attractions well before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m.

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