We dedicated a whole day to visiting Volcanoes National Park. It’s in the opposite side of the island and kind of a schlep to get to, but it wouldn’t have done to have missed it. The forecast predicted rain, but very little of it fell while we were outside the car. And while there was no flowing red lava to see, we happened to arrive on the first day of reopening for the subterranean lava tubes and miraculously had them all to ourselves. In fact, that’s where we started our visit. The vibe was long and dark and drippy with water and hanging roots—appropriately Indiana Jones!

From there we we descended the rim of a dormant crater to trek across the baked flat lava lake at the bottom. It was like being in another planet. Obviously there could be no trail across the smooth rock surface, so we just followed the piles of rocks that guided us to the spot on the opposite side where the trail led back up to the top of the rim.

From there back along the rim of the neighboring Kilawea caldera to the car. The forest was lovely and punctuated with alarming signs.

Further around the rim was the accurately named Steaming Bluff. This is where steam created when rain seeps down to the volcanic depths escapes back into the atmosphere. The skies conveniently decided to give us a quick downpour, so we got to appreciate water in multiple forms as we watched the steam.

From there it was only a short hike to the sulfur banks where the escaping gasses stink like rotten eggs and leave yellowish crystals in the rocky hillside.

These parts of the park were well dormant of any true lava activity, but on the downhill slopes we found the fresh lava flows from recent eruptions. The black expanse glistened in the sun and frozen in the fascinating coils and bubbles that it formed while liquidly oozing down to the sea.

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