Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Haleakala National Park became parks on this day in 1916, signed in by President Wilson.
It was a great day when the land surrounding these volcano areas became protected.
The State of Hawaii is an archipelago of eight major islands, islets and atolls spanning approximately 1,500 miles (2,400 km) across the Pacific Ocean. More about Hawaiian Islands here.
The 11th national park in the United States has an interesting history.
In 1790 Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii had a violent eruption that killed whole families. Fifty years later it became a tourist attraction for western visitors, and a string of hotels began popping up on the volcano rim.
In 1907 the Territory of Hawaii (it was not yet a state) paid for 50 members of Congress to visit the island volcanoes. Hoping to get national park status, leaders of the effort hosted a dinner–cooked over lava steam vents.
In the next nine years there were bills drafted, congressional delegations, opposition, and a few failed attempts. A leading force in the effort, Lorrin Thurston, secured endorsements from environmental enthusiasts including John Muir and former President Theodore Roosevelt.
The area eventually became a park on August 1, 1916; they called it Hawaii National Park. The Park, being on two separate islands, was changed in 1960 to two parks in their present names.
Located on Hawaii (aka The Big Island), is Volcanoes National Park. It has two active volcanoes: Kilauea and Mauna Loa.
There are lava flows old and new, calderas, steaming vents, lava tubes, and lava tunnels throughout the island.
Much of the Big Island (my favorite) is a vast expanse of uninhabitable lava fields resembling a lifeless moonscape. Lava has been spilling out over the island for centuries and continues to do so every year.
Eruptions here are so frequent that the National Park Service website offers frequent lava flow updates. Volcano activity this week: click here.
The other park is on the next biggest island in land area: Maui. Haleakala National Park features dormant Haleakala Volcano. It last erupted between 1480 and 1600 AD.
Haleakala means “house of the sun” in Hawaiian.
This park has Haleakala Crater at the summit; and surrounding natural pools, waterfalls, and rainforest leading down to the coast.
The crater is huge (seven miles [11.25 km] across; 2,600 feet [790 m] deep) with a landscape of cinder cones rich in earth colors.
Here’s a Haleakala post I wrote: here.
Native Hawaii is all about volcanoes, rainforests, lava fields, and mountain tops. With native plants, birds, wildlife, and volcanic features, there is much to celebrate in these national parks.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander unless otherwise specified