One of the most scenic roads on the Big Island, the Chain of Craters Road stretches for 19 miles (31 kilometers) from the summit of Kilauea Volcano to sea level, a change in elevation of 3,700 feet (1,128 meters). The drive offers stunning vistas across changing landscapes, access to different volcanic features, and other interesting sites. The Basics
Along the Chain of Craters Road, there are numerous lookouts and opportunities to view features like pit craters, lava flows, and lava trees. Some of the features are visible from pull-offs, while others require a hike in. Don’t miss the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs around mile marker 16. At the end of the road, a short walk leads you to 90-foot-high (27-meter-high) Holei Sea Arch and a chance to hike (no trail) to more recent lava flow.
A number of sightseeing tours, including bicycle tours and shore excursions from Hilo, include the Chain of Craters Road, along with other highlights in Hawaii Volcano National Park. Tours may stop at other area attractions such as Liliuokalani Gardens, Rainbow Falls, or Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- There are no gas stations or supplies along the Chain of Craters Road; make sure you have enough fuel, water, and food.
- Wear sturdy shoes and be careful if you hike out on the lava, which may feature uneven terrain, brittle lava, cracks, and extremely sharp lava.
- Bring sun protection during the day; most areas along the road have limited shade.
- Bring flashlights if there is a chance you will still be out after dark.
The Chain of Craters Road is located inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Take Highway 11 to the park, then take Crater Rim Drive for 3 miles (5 kilometers) to the start of the Chain of Craters Road.
When to Get There
The Chain of Craters Road can be visited at any time. Conditions can change daily, so always check at the visitor center before setting off. There’s plenty to do and see along the road, so it’s best to start earlier in the day and leave yourself lots of time. Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs
The Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs in Hawaii Volcano National Park include more than 20,000 examples, the most on the islands, including pukas, circles, geometric designs, human figures, canoes, and other designs. The trail to the petroglyphs is around 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) round-trip, and visitors should take care not to wander off the walkway.