Free Resources for Discovering Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

January 14, 2022

Sarah Shelton

Sarah Shelton

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Are you and your family stuck at home and longing for travel and adventure? This is a great time to plan that dream vacation, and make future travel plans. If your kids love learning about volcanoes and tropical islands they will enjoy these free resources for discovering Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with red flames background


Visiting National Parks (In Person or Virtually)

The national parks are amazing places to visit that will create life long memories for your whole family.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a special place because it is an active volcanic park with real volcanic eruptions on the Hawaiian islands. It is one of the more popular destinations on the Pacific Islands.

It is also a protective home to some of the most unique landscapes in the world. The park contains amazing desert regions created from unusual lava formations and natural resources, as well as grassy meadows.

It has a tropical rain forest full of tree fern native trees and tropical birds. There are also mongooses, goats and pigs found in the Hawaii forest.

Entrance Sign in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Entrance Sign in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Home to Active Volcanoes

The main attraction to this national park is that it is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes. These volcanoes still have volcanic activity happening at them. It is one of a few places in the entire world where you can come face to face with a real active volcano.

The two active volcanoes in this park are: Kilauea and Mauna Loa. 


Kilauea is the youngest and most active volcano on the Hawaii island. In 2018 it had a new eruption that lasted for a month straight. You may remember seeing it on the news with people having to flee their homes as rivers of hot lava was rolling down the roads.

With its most recent activity, it destroyed hundreds of homes and damaged part of the park with all of the molten lava.

Learn more about the world’s most active shield volcano, Kilauea from Brittanica.

Hawaii lava flow entering the ocean on Big Island from Kilauea volcano. Volcanic eruption fissure view from water. Red molten lava.
Hawaii lava flow entering the ocean on Big Island from Kilauea volcano. Volcanic eruption fissure view from water.

Mauna Loa

Mauna Loa is the earth’s largest shield volcano and is the biggest mountain on Earth. It is even larger than Mount Everest when you measure how far it goes under the ocean. The bottom of this volcanic mountain is 3 miles below the surface of the ocean. It covers most of the south-central part of the large island. 

Its first eruption was in 1843 and it has erupted 3 dozen times since then. The last eruption was in 1984 from an underground earthquake. Find out more about Mauna Loa, the world’s largest volcano.

Panoramic view of Mauna Loa volcano on Big Island of Hawaii
Panoramic view of Mauna Loa volcano on Big Island of Hawaii at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Where is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park located?

This national park is located along the southeastern shore on the big island of Hawaii with beautiful scenic drives to get there. It is a 45-mile drive south of Hilo. This park covers over 500 miles, from sea level to 13,677 feet elevation, with 330,000 acres of lava fields.

This park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and on holidays. The Kīlauea Visitor Center is located on Crater Rim Drive. You will want to make sure this is the first place that you stop to visit as it is right inside the entrance of the park.

Rangers and volunteers are available to help you with free maps, and to recommend hikes and ranger led activities throughout the day. This is also where you can find out about the current volcanic eruption activity within the park.

History and Culture of the Park

Lorrin Thurston, publisher of the Honolulu Pacific Commercial Advertiser, loved to explore the volcano lands. In 1906 he began the campaign to turn it into a public park. 

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was established on August 1, 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed the park into existence.

This park was named as an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 because of it’s amazing natural, growing landscape and value.

The plants and animals that live in the park are very sacred and important to the native Hawaiian people. Protecting the parks is also a way to preserve their traditional practices and beliefs.

The native Hawaiians believe in Pele, a goddess from the Hawaiian volcano Kilauea. She is considered a strong force, and the creator of the volcanic landscape. Ancient Hawaiian chants tell the story of Pele creating a new land, but destroying what was already there.

The name Pele means eater of the land. Many Hawaiians consider Pele to be family and is to be respected. They say her presence can be felt on the island and  they ask for those that come to visit that they do so respectfully as the land is supposed to be a sacred place.

Lava Tube in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Big Island, Hawaii.
Lava Tube in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Big Island, Hawaii.

Fun Facts about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park:

  • The park was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.
  • It is home to two active volcanoes.
  • It gets 100 inches of rain per year. 
  • You can watch lava pouring into the ocean from this park.
  • It is home to over 1,000 different plant species. 90% of all the plants on the island are unique to the park’s ecosystem. 
  • There are seven ecological zones across the one park: alpine, subalpine, upland forest, tropical rain forest, mid-elevation woodland, lowland, and seacoast. 

Recommended Resource: National Parks Notebook – A Notebook Companion™ for National Parks of the U.S.A.

Explore the national parks of the U.S.A with our publisher-approved Notebook Companion™. Using the notebook alongside the popular book book National Parks of the U.S.A. will help you squeeze all the amazing content out of it and use it for your homeschool.

National Parks Notebook spiral bound and National Parks of the U.S.A. book

What kind of animals can you see at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park?

This park is home to numerous endangered species, and threatened birds and animals. There are also mongooses, goats and invasive pigs found in the Hawaii forest.

Invasive Animals – Learn about the invasive animals that inhabit the park and can cause a lot of damage. Find out what the park is doing to solve the problem of the invasive species and what you can do to help as well.

Marine Life – There are some amazing marine animals that reside here such as the Honu green sea turtles, hawksbill turtle, humpback whales, Hawaiian monk Seal, rock crabs and sea urchins


Tropical birds are such a beauty to behold. There are some amazing species of birds that can only be found in Hawaii. It is definitely a bucket list for birders to see some of these birds and add them to their life list.

Nene – This protected bird is on the threatened species list. It is a type of goose with short wings. This bird is also the state bird of Hawaii.

Protect the Threatened Nene – This video is a public service announcement explaining why you should not feed the protected nēnē birds or the Hawaiian goose located throughout the park. 

Hawaiian Petrel – Learn about the ʻuaʻu, te native Hawaiian sea bird, why it is an endangered species and see a video of it in a burrow. 

Koaʻe Kea – This beautiful white tailed tropical bird nests on cliffs and crater walls.

Hawaiian Hawk – The ‘Io’ is the only hawk species that is native to Hawaii. It was once on the endangered species list, but has made a great comeback.

Native Hawaiian Forest Birds – Learn about the brightly colored and beautiful forest birds with photographs and descriptions of each one. 

Sulphur Banks Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii, United States
Sulphur Banks Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii, United States

Free Resources for Discovering Hawaii Volcanoes National Park:

Coloring Page of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Color Mauna Loa, the largest volcano with this coloring and information page.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Reading Comprehension Unit Study – Guided reading lesson and reading comprehension unit study of this national park.

Printable Maps of the Park – Plan your visit to the park with these printable maps of the park from the national park service.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Visitors Guide and Itinerary – This guide will you give you suggestions on places to visit in the park such as the spectacular views from Kilauea Iki Lookout, hiking trails and the Thurston lava tube.

5 Things You Can’t Miss on your First Visit to Hawaii Volcanoes – There are so many things to see and do at this park, this article from a park ranger has narrowed down the 5 things you can not miss on your first visit.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Guide – This is a wonderfully detailed guide to plan a trip. Find out some of the best things to see in the park, as well as where to stay. Learn about the Volcano House and how Mark Twain stayed there, and make sure to include that in your plans.

Geology of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park – The U.S. Geological Survey has lots of scientific information on the geography of the park and information on the Pacific Plate. There are charts, graphics and maps that show the volcanic eruptions and where the lava flows and how the ground has changed and created more land from the lava.

Curriculum Materials – Learn about the native forest, volcanoes, geology, Pele’s journey, night sky watching and more with these free curriculum downloads.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Website 

The main Hawaii Volcanoes National Park website has a wealth of information and amazing resources for learning about the park without even visiting it.

Active Volcanoes – Find out what’s going on with the active volcanoes in the park with educational videos and current conditions for your visit. If the volcanic advisory is high, the park may be closed.

Nature – Learn about the different plants and animals of the park. There are beautiful photographs and facts for each plant and animal listed.

History and Culture – Learn about the history of the people, places and stories from the island.

Ranger Tips for a Successful Visit – Free visitor checklist, information on how to download the app for the park, how to stay safe and what to expect when you arrive.

Virtual Tours and Videos of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park:

Traveling to Hawaii can be expensive, and something you may always dream of doing, but never get the chance to. This is why I love virtual tours and webcams so much.

It is the best way that you and your children can explore somewhere they may never get the chance to visit. 

2018 Eruption of Kilauea – This video will explain how much this volcano eruption of 2018 changed the island of Hawaii with videos of the destruction and damage.

Dome Fountain in Halema’uma’u’ Lava Lake –  Your children will be in awe of the natural beauty of the lava fountains shown in this video of an upwelling of lava forming a large dome fountain.

Nahuku Lava Tube of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – The Google Arts and Culture video tour will take you inside this popular attraction of real lava tubes that are located inside the park. Your kids are going to love the tubes that were created from lava.

Virtual time lapse video of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – A time lapse video that will take you through some amazing nature scenes. Watch as the active lava flows into the Pacific Ocean creating steam and a sunset like color as the fire and water meet.

18 Webcams Located at the Park – There are some great webcams located throughout the park of the different volcanoes, summit cams, rift zones, observation towers and more. You can even watch the volcano eruptions at night which is a unique sight to see.

Free Volcano Research Journal

Historic Volcanoes Notebooking Research Journal – This notebooking research journal covers 37 different historical volcano eruptions. Each volcano listed shows the date and location of the eruption. Your children will research what type of volcano it is, any facts as well as the amount of damage that specific eruption caused. 

Everything can be stored neatly in the printable notebooking journal. 

volcano and text free notebooking research journal

In Conclusion

Studying volcanoes is super fascinating. A fun fact, one of our HSG team members lives in Tonga, an island in the South Pacific. In 2020 the earth’s newest island popped up and has an active volcano, currently erupting. You can watch it on video


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