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Monday, July 27, 2015

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Driving Tour: Puhimau Crater


The Need to Knows:
  • The Puhimau Crater is located along Chain of Craters Road within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Pahoa, HI.  Its exact location can be found here:
  • There are no restrooms or water fountains located here.
  • Since this stop is another pullout off of Chain of Craters Road like Lua Manu Crater (except with its own parking lot this time), I would say it is wheelchair and stroller-friendly.
  • I would expect to spend about 10-15 minutes here checking out the views of 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!
The Puhimau Crater is the second crater along Hawaii Volcanoes National Park's famous Chain of Craters road.  Like Lua Manu, the last crater we saw on the drive, Puhimau is an example of a pit crater -- meaning the surface of this area collapsed into a void chamber underneath it where magma had once pooled together but then quickly subsided.  It is also known as a collapse chamber.


Puhimau was possibly formed somewhere between 1450 and 1800 and is 600 feet wide and 500 feet deep -- pretty large, I'd say!  Unlike Lua Manu, however, lava has yet to enter this crater since its formation.


Puhimau is also known for the presence of thermal activity.  If you look closely, you may be able to see steam rising from the crater, similar to the Steam Bluff Overlook we stopped at back on Crater Rim Drive.  And not far from here is the Puhimau Hotspot, about 4/10ths of a mile from the parking lot.  At first, the hotspot only wiped out about 15 acres of vegetation, but it's grown substantially since then.  Molten rock is assumed to be as close as 500 feet from the surface here!


We didn't take the Hotspot trail on this trip, but if you're interested in learning more about it, check out this website here.  And if you do decide to venture down it, please be careful and safe!  Read the tips on that website and double check with park rangers to make sure it is safe to explore when you arrive at the park.


If you're making this drive, I'd say Puhimau is definitely one of the must-sees, especially since it's so easy to get to.  So make sure to stop!

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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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