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Monday, August 3, 2015

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Driving Tour: Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu Pullout

The Need to Knows
  • The Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu Pullout 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 Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu, just a pullout on both sides of Chain of Craters Road.
  • There are no restroom facilities located here.
  • There also isn't any shade or water, so make sure you have sunscreen, a hat, and water with you.
  • I wouldn't so much classify this stop as wheelchair or stroller-friendly simply because the lava is rough and bumpy.  It would definitely be off-roading!
  • Plan to spend about 10-15 minutes here to get a good stretch and admire the old lava flows.
  • 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!
Just as an FYI, there is another crater before this pullout called the Pauahi Crater that Mr. L and I actually stopped at, but I didn't take any pictures of it -- d'oh!  So instead of give you a pictureless post, I decided to throw a little notice of it in here.  For more information on the Pauahi Crater (which is beautiful -- you should definitely stop there!) go here.


At this point in our Hawaii Volcanoes National Park driving tour, we have passed by the numerous craters that dot the landscape and gave Chain of Craters Road its name.  Now we are getting closer to some gorgeous Big Island coastline, and thanks to Mauna Ulu, the partial namesake of this pullout, you will now be seeing some old lava flows covering the landscape around you.  And don't worry, there are plenty more ahead of us as well!

This stop is a good place to get out and stretch your legs out for a while if you feel you need to.  There's lots of wide open lava landscape to explore and you also start to get a great view of the ocean from here as seen below.  Little vegetation grows here thanks to the porousness of the lava and the lack of rainfall.

The flows you see around you are all from Mauna Ulu, which can also be seen from this vantage point.  The flows cut off Chain of Craters Road multiple times between 1969 and 1974, requiring it to be rebuilt each time (talk about a crappy job!).  So the lava here is actually relatively young, so to speak.

If you look closely at the hardened pahoehoe (meaning smooth and ripply, almost like cake batter) lava, you'll notice it seems to be shiny.  This is from the outer layer of silica on its surface.

This spot also serves as the trailhead for Keauhou Trail which leads to the coastline.  For more information on that trail, go here.

Click for a larger view
As you head on down the road from here, from time to time there will be pullouts much like the one at this stop.  I don't have them on my tour, but feel free to stop if you've got the time!  I find that each pullout offers a unique view you wouldn't otherwise get, so it's always worth a look to me.  :)


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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