For as overly dramatic as the name might sound, this road is literally a winding journey that weaves past volcanic craters—many of which still steam with life from magma within their core.
Located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Chain of Craters Road drops 3,700 feet over 20 scorched Earth miles. It's the main conduit for exploring the park and accessing its numerous hikes, and it ends at the point where lava crossed the road in a 2003 eruption. There are numerous trailheads that start from the road, although hiking can be hazardous across the sharp lava rocks and there are no facilities or supplies.
Even if you don’t venture out the trails, the views simply from driving the road are spectacular in their geologic beauty. Patches of rainforest over a thousand years old appear as islands amidst a sea of lava rock, and pit craters that formed from collapsing Earth lie pockmarked just off the road. Towards the bottom of the journey where the road reaches sea level, steam can occasionally be viewed on the coastline as lava meets with the sea. At night, the rugged coast can glow eerily orange depending on the strength of the flow, and the spiritual power of Madame Pele can be felt in the Kilauea darkness.
Chain of Craters Road is open 24 hours, and there is a $10 entrance fee when visiting the National Park. There are no gas stations or any supplies at any point along the road, so visitors and hikers need to be prepared with water, fuel, and snacks. Also, since conditions on the volcano can literally change daily, check for updates at the Visitor Center before setting out down the road.