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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Driving Tour: Devil's Throat

The Need to Knows:
  • Devil's Throat is located along Chain of Craters Road within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Pahoa, HI.  Its exact location can be found here:
  • There is no parking lot for Devil's Throat, but there is a small pullout on the right side of the road close to its location, about 1.3 miles from the Puhimau Crater parking lot.  If you zoom in on the embedded Google Map above, the pullout is where the car is parked on the right side of Chain of Craters Road.
  • There are NO barriers here to keep you from falling in the crater, so you MUST exercise caution and sound judgment when visiting Devil's Throat.  Pay close attention the trail to the crater and do NOT hang out on the crater's edge.  You don't want to fall in here and be maimed or killed!
  • I would estimate that you should spend about 15-20 minutes at this stop including the very short trail to the crater.
  • As always, for updated information on closures within the park, visit this NPS page.  Also keep in mind that any information in these posts is subject to change any time by the National Park Service!
If you have the time to make the drive, right before Devil's Throat is the Hilina Pali Road, which takes you to a really beautiful area overlooking the southern portion of the Big Island's coastline from a 2000 foot cliff.  The road is about 8.5 miles long though and takes about 35 minutes to drive one way, so if you're short on time (like we were on this trip), feel free to skip it since you'll be seeing the coastline soon anyway.  For more information on the drive check out this website here.


Devil's Throat is another pit crater (like Lua Manu and Puhimau before it).  It formed around the year 1912 and was discovered by volcanologist Thomas Jaggar, the same person the Jaggar Museum is named for.  Although Devil's Throat was only initially 20 feet in diameter, it eventually increased to 150 feet in diameter as time marched on.  It's also about 165 feet deep -- in other words, that's a long damn drop!

What makes this crater different from Lua Manu and Puhimau is its ruggedness.  You won't find railings or barriers here to keep you away from the crater's edge.  The only thing you'll see is down the ragged, jagged throat of a devil!

When you're walking the super short 150-foot long trail to this crater, PLEASE keep your eyes open and pay attention to your surroundings.  There are no signs or markings noting the location of Devil's Throat and you could potentially walk right into it without ever actually seeing it if you aren't paying attention.  Make sure you keep your eyes on the trail!

I also need to stay that the rocks around the crater's edge are HIGHLY unstable.  Do NOT walk or stand on or near the edge.  There is always the possibility of the ground sliding into the crater and you along with it.  Also take note of the wind conditions -- if they're strong, stay AWAY from the crater.  You definitely do not want to get blown into it.

Long way down!
Since this was the same trip that I also experienced dizzying vertigo and a small panic attack on top of Rainbow Falls, it was not a surprise that I got the same feelings here, too.  Be wary of the vertigo if you experience it and pay attention to what your body is telling you.  The picture above was as close as I could manage to get to the edge at all, and it was close enough, thank you very much!

I think out of all the crater stops, Devil's Throat was my favorite exactly because it felt more "wild".  There may not be barriers here to keep you separated from the crater which makes it more unsafe, but it also makes you appreciate its size and inherent danger and allows you to respect the crater more easily.  You can't stop and visit Devil's Throat without taking it seriously, and if for some reason you don't take it seriously, you'd better check yourself before you wreck yourself -- no joke!

But as long as you practice caution and common sense, I highly suggest checking out Devil's Throat while you're on your own Hawaii Volcanoes National Park driving tour, especially since it was one of my favorite things we saw in the park!


Catch up on the rest of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Driving Tour below!

Crater Rim Drive
Chain of Craters Road


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