Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Star party, eruption update, fee-free day await at the summit

  • MICHAEL SZOENYI/National Park Service Morning glory vine, growing at Kipukapuaulu, can become invasive if not controlled.
  • USGS Kilauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone.
  • National Park Service Learn the Hawaiian art of ‘ohe kapala (bamboo stamping) Jan. 10 on the Kilauea Visitor Center lanai.
  • JANICE WEI/National Park Service Steam vents in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where entrance is free Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
  • USGS Learn about the Kilauea summit eruption and Halema‘uma‘u lava lake Jan. 16 at the Kilauea Visitor Center auditorium.
  • DAVID BOYLE/National Park Service Rangers will demonstrate how to weave a ti leaf lei Jan. 17 at the Kilauea Visitor Center lanai.
  • National Park Service Volunteers look for whales during 2015 Sanctuary Ocean Count at Ka‘ena Point.
  • JANICE WEI/National Park Service Join us for the park’s first-ever star party Jan. 29 with astronomer Dean Regas at Kilauea Overlook.
  • Courtesy photo Astronomer Dean Regas will host the park’s first-ever Star Party on Jan. 29 and lunar eclipse viewing Jan. 30 at Kilauea Overlook.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park continues its tradition of sharing Hawaiian culture, After Dark in the Park events and other inspiring programs with the public throughout 2018.

In addition, everyone is invited to lend a hand to save native rain forest through the park’s volunteer stewardship opportunities.


January is Volcano Awareness Month, and four After Dark programs will be presented by USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists. Park programs are free, but entrance fees apply. Programs are co-sponsored by Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the Hawaii Pacific Parks Association.

Mark the calendar for these upcoming events in January:

Stewardship at the Summit

Volunteer to help remove invasive, non-native plant species that prevent native plants from growing in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a World Heritage Site. Wear sturdy hiking shoes and long pants. Bring a hat, rain gear, day pack, snacks and water. Gloves and tools are provided. Parental or guardian accompaniment or written consent is required for volunteers younger than 18. Visit the park website for additional planning details: www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/summit_stewardship.htm.

When: 8:45 a.m. Jan. 6, 13, 19 and 26

Where: Meet project leaders Paul and Jane Field at Kilauea Visitor Center on any of the above dates.

Stewardship of Kipukapuaulu

Help remove invasive plants such as morning glory at Kipukapuaulu, home to an astonishing diversity of native forest and understory plants. Bring clippers or pruners, sturdy gloves, hat and water. Wear closed-toe shoes and clothing that you don’t mind getting permanently stained from morning glory sap. Be prepared for cool and wet or hot and sunny weather. New volunteers can contact Marilyn Nicholson for more information at nickem@hawaii.rr.com.

When: 9:30 a.m. Thursdays (Jan. 4, 11, 18 and 25)

Where: Meet at the Kipukapuaulu parking lot, Mauna Loa Road, off Highway 11 in the park.

“Kilauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone: 35 years and Still Erupting”

Jan. 3 will mark the 35th anniversary of Kilauea Volcano’s ongoing East Rift Zone eruption. During its first three years, high lava fountains erupted episodically from the Pu‘u ‘O‘o vent. Since then, nearly continuous effusion of lava has sent numerous ‘a‘a and pahoehoe flows downslope, burying about 55 square miles of the volcano’s south flank. USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Carolyn Parcheta briefly describes the early history of this eruption and provides an in-depth look at lava flow activity during the past year, including the Kamokuna ocean entry and lava delta. Part of Hawaii Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 9

Where: Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium

‘Ohe Kapala Demo: Hawaiian Bamboo Stamping

Learn to create beautiful designs using bamboo stamps (‘ohe kapala). Originally used to decorate clothing with deep symbolic meaning, we now use ‘ohe kapala designs to tell stories on a variety of modern materials. Part of Hawaii Volcanoes’ ‘Ike Hana No‘eau (Experience the Skillful Work) workshops. Free.

When: 10 a.m.-noon Jan. 10

Where: Kilauea Visitor Center lanai

Free Entrance on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

The National Park Service invites the public to experience all national parks without entrance fees on four days in 2018: Jan. 15 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day); April 21 (first day of National Park Week); Sept. 22 (National Public Lands Day) and Nov. 11 (Veterans Day).

“Kilauea Summit Eruption: The Story of the Halemaʻumaʻu Lava Lake”

The story of Kilauea Volcano’s ongoing summit eruption within Halemaʻumaʻu is the focus of a recently released USGS documentary that will be introduced by Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Janet Babb, who co-produced and co-wrote the video. The story recounts the formation and growth of the summit vent, describes the fluctuating lava lake within and features USGS scientists sharing their insights about various aspects of the eruption. After the 24-minute video, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Matt Patrick will provide an update on what’s happening at Halemaʻumaʻu today and answer questions about the summit eruption. Part of Hawaii Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 16

Where: Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Weave a Ti Leaf Lei

Learn how to create a ti leaf lei. Join park rangers and Hawaii Pacific Parks Association staff as they share their knowledge and love for one of the most popular lei in Hawaii. Part of Hawaii Volcanoes’ ‘Ike Hana No‘eau (Experience the Skillful Work) workshops. Free.

When: 10 a.m-noon Jan. 17

Where: Kilauea Visitor Center lanai

“Volcanic Ash from Kilauea Volcano’s Summit Lava Lake: From the Mundane to the Unexpected”

Pele’s hair, Pele’s tears and other ash are produced by bursting gas bubbles in the lava lake at Kilauea’s summit. The amount of ash erupted daily ranges widely owing to short-term fluctuations in vigor of spattering. The monthly amount of ash, however, varies systematically with time, reflecting changing lake level, which, in turn, varies with the rate of magma supply. The methodical collecting of ash unexpectedly discovered a magma supply that pulses over several-month periods — the first such pulsing recognized at any volcano. This illustrated lecture, presented by USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Don Swanson, demonstrates how systematic, long-term collections can lead to surprising but fundamental discoveries. Part of Hawaii Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 23

Where: Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Count Humpback Whales for the Sanctuary Ocean Count

Join Hawaii Volcanoes park rangers and volunteers at Ka‘ena Point and count migratory humpback whales that swim by Jan. 27, Feb. 24 and March 31. The Sanctuary Ocean Count is a signature outreach project the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary hosts annually. Ocean Count serves to promote public awareness about humpback whales, the sanctuary and shore-based whale-watching opportunities in the Hawaiian Islands. Participants tally humpback whale sightings and document the animals’ surface behavior during the survey, which provides valuable data to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Bring sun protection, water, snacks and a cushion to sit on. Register at www.sanctuaryoceancount.org. Free.

When: 7:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Jan. 27 (and again Feb. 24 and March 31)

Where: Ka‘ena Point, at the end of Chain of Craters Road

Musician and Textile Artist Offer Dual Performance

Musician Will Oldham (who performs as Bonnie “Prince” Billy) and his wife, fiber/textile artist Elsa Hansen Oldham, have been selected as the park’s 2018 Artists in Residence. The couple will present a dual multimedia performance for the public. Will Oldham will sing and play music while Elsa Hansen Oldham stitches onstage as her handiwork is projected on a movie screen. Oldham is an acclaimed singer/songwriter whose music has been described as an alternative blend of country folk and punk; his wife’s quilting and cross-stitch work puts a folksy pop-art spin on history and modern culture. Free.

When: 6 p.m. Jan. 26

Where: Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Kilauea Star Party

Join astronomer Dean Regas, co-host of PBS’ “Star Gazers,” as he hosts Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s first-ever Star Party at Kilauea Overlook. Learn about an endangered resource and sacred cultural connection: our dark night skies. Journey through time as we explore nearby planets and deep-space celestial wonders above the glow of Halema‘uma‘u Crater. Dark skies rangers will answer questions and guide visitors through the night sky. Powerful telescopes will be available. Free, but subject to weather conditions.

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 29

Where: Kilauea Overlook (Crater Rim Drive, before Jaggar Museum)

Volcanic geology Along Saddle Road

The new Daniel K. Inouye Highway, commonly called the Saddle Road, crosses the center of Hawaii Island between its two largest volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. Traveling this road takes you through a varied landscape of historically interesting geological features, including large and young lava flows, cinder cones, kipuka, and ancient ice age dune fields. This contrasting scenery shows outstanding examples of how Hawaiian volcanoes mature and age. Join Rick Hazlett, affiliate geologist with the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and University of Hawaii at Hilo, as he describes this “outdoor classroom” in which visitors can learn more about how our aloha ‘aina (precious land) came to be. Part of Hawaii Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 30

Where: Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Witness the Lunar Eclipse

Join astronomer Dean Regas, co-host of PBS’ “Star Gazers,” as he guides us through the January 2018 lunar eclipse atop Kilauea Volcano. A lunar eclipse can only occur the night of the full moon, when the sun, Earth and moon are aligned. As the Earth’s shadow (umbra) passes across the moon, it creates a lunar eclipse. Every so often, this alignment is perfect or nearly so, and creates a total lunar eclipse. The park will provide an excellent vantage point to view the spectacle — weather permitting. Free.


When: 8:30 p.m. Jan. 30 (following the After Dark in the Park program)

Where: Kilauea Overlook (Crater Rim Drive, before Jaggar Museum)