Not seeing the Lava Flow at Hawaii Volcanoes NP

Glow of Lava Flow - Hawaii Volcanoes NP

The park was closed.

For our first anniversary, my wife and I flew all the way to Hawaii for a week to check out Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and see the active lava flow. I was SUPER excited about getting some amazing photography of the lava pouring into the ocean at sunrise (still get excited just thinking about shooting it). Then all hell broke loose and our government lost their ever-lovin’ minds and the NPS shut down as collateral damage. No lava for us.

We explored the rest of the island, Hilo, Kona, Waimea…black sand beaches, waterfalls and the southernmost tip of the United States. But it wasn’t lava.

Our last day in town we decided to get up before dawn and set up on one of the beaches for some sunrise shots. We both fought it. We were tired, it was cold and wet and my knee was still pretty aggravated. But, this was our only chance to shoot sunrise and my wife made the point that we ALWAYS shoot at least one sunrise when we are traveling.

So we got up and drove in the dark to our black sand beach. We stayed in Volcano, just outside the National Park, and the main road runs right along the park. As I drove my wife caught a glimpse of something and excitedly had me pull over so we could look. It was pitch black out, still over an hour before sunrise and there was this intense orange glow in the distance at the horizon…in the park.


We never got to actually see any lava but we were both excited to be able to see the smoke and the glow in the distance. Small conciliation for not being able to enter the park, but it was still pretty damn cool to see. It’s the closest we got and there was something really cool about it, like when you watch an old monster movie and they never really show you the monster…yeah, it was cool.

So, even if they let you in the park I still recommend driving by the park in the dark and checking out the eerie glow of molten earth in the distance.

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