Thurston Lava Tube could reopen soon in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

  • The Thurston Lava Tube, which has been closed since 2018, could reopen within a few weeks. (NPS photo)

The long-closed Thurston Lava Tube in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park could reopen within a month if a final repair project goes smoothly.

The Thurston Lava Tube, also called Nahuku, was one of several attractions at the national park that were closed indefinitely after the 2018 Kilauea eruption.

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When the park reopened in September 2018, the tube remained closed until scientists and engineers could confirm that it was structurally sound after the thousands of earthquakes that rattled the park during the eruption.

HVNP spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane said the park will reopen the tube to the public after the nearby restroom facility is restored to working order.

In order to do that, the park must repair a faulty electrical line and bury it underground, a project that could take two to four weeks, barring unforeseen complications, she said.

“We’re really looking forward to getting people back to the lava tube,” Ferracane said. “It’s been a lot of work.”

When the tube eventually reopens, there will be some small changes, Ferracane said.

For example, monitoring equipment has been installed to detect any possible changes in cracks that opened in the tube following the eruption.

Other changes will include pylons warning visitors of a low ceiling in the tube, and an improved water-drainage system that will prevent standing water pooling within the tube.

When the tube reopens, the park also will reveal a new parking configuration at the lot servicing the tube, Ferracane said. The previous lot arrangement had 24 parking stalls and a few more spots for vans, buses and ADA vehicles, but also required vehicles to park perpendicular to Crater Rim Drive, which presented a safety hazard, with vehicles having to back onto the busiest road in the park to leave.

The new parking scheme will feature 18 stalls parallel to the road, and visitors will be encouraged to park at other sites such as Devastation Trail.

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Meanwhile, the electrical project has closed an unpaved emergency access road between Highway 11 and the Thurston Lava Tube, which will remain closed for the duration of the project.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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