Since Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted in May, covering the surrounding area in lava, massive sections of the park have been closed off to visitors. Now, for the first time in four months, Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park is open to the public, and people can get a little closer to the volcano that wreaked so much havoc on the island. Frequent visitors to the park might find the geography a bit different, however. One of the area’s most popular attractions, a lake of lava on the volcano’s summit with a radiant red glow, is now completely gone following months of volcanic activity.
Ingrid Johanson, a research geophysicist at the US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, told the Associated Press, “The changes we’ve seen at the summit are much more dramatic than anything that’s happened in the last 200 years.” Of the crater at the volcano’s summit, Johanson says it looks “completely different. I think people are going to be really awestruck when they see it.”
Although the park will be open 24 hours, visitors should be wary of new cracks in the trails, especially at night. Access to the volcano itself will remain limited, but guests will be able to hike around parts of the summit, where they can see down into the crater itself.
Volcanic activity at Kilauea has tapered off in the past month, but scientists aren’t quite ready to declare this latest eruption officially over. “There’s still material that could feed into an eruption,” Johanson said. “I definitely expect that lava will return one day.”