Best time to visit Hawaii

Crater Rim Drive in Hawaii

A stunning drive through Hawaii's Volcanoes National Park

Best time: all year round

Crater Rim Drive
Crater Rim Drive
Crater Rim Drive

Crater Rim Drive is a 17-km (11-mi) road located in the Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii. The road circumnavigates the edge of the Kilauea Caldera with plenty of stunning views, hiking opportunities, and points of interest along the way.

This scenic drive winds around a section of the summit caldera, through a rain forest and a desert. Get ready to see steam vents, underground lava tubes, and pit craters. A paved two-way loop road links major attractions of the park: Jaggar Museum, the Kilauea overlook, Halemaumau Crater, and more.

When near Kilauea Caldera, visitors can hike into a crater that was active in 1959. Halemaumau crater of the volcano is continuing to expand due to a recent volcanic activity that has started in May 2018. You can see it in full glory from Kīlauea Iki Overlook. Then check out the Steam Vents where groundwater contacts the hot volcanic rocks and turns into steam. Visitors can also hike to Pu'u Pua'i overlook area and Devastations Trail. Pu'u Pua'i stands for "gushing hill" in Hawaiian. It is a cinder cone that was formed after Kilauea Iki Crater eruption—cinder and ash were shot far to the southwest forming the cone.

Crater Rim Drive is open year round. But mind that some sections can be closed due to volcanic activity in the area. For more information and the closure updates, visit the Kilauea Visitor Center.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Crater Rim Drive in Hawaii?

Mid April to mid June is the ideal time to explore Crater Rim Drive, in summer or spring, when the temperature is stable and mild. Weather on the volcano can be unpredictable, so appropriate clothing, suitable shoes for hiking, and plenty of drinking water are recommended for visitors. Show more

Where can visitors see the most stunning views on Crater Rim Drive?

Crater Rim Drive offers several stunning viewpoints, including the Steam Vents, where water seeps into the ground and turns into steam due to underground heat, and the Kīlauea Iki Overlook, which provides a panoramic view of the Halemaumau crater. Families can enjoy the scenic Devastation Trail featuring the volcanic eruption scars. Show more

What is the recent volcanic activity that's causing Halemaumau crater to expand?

Over the years, Halemaumau crater has expanded due to several volcanic activities. Since 2018, there have been increased seismic activities, such as the collapse of Kilauea caldera and the formation of a lava lake in Halemaumau crater. In December 2020, a new lava dome began forming within the crater. Visitors can stay updated on volcanic activity and section closures through the Kilauea Visitor Center. Show more

How long does it take to complete a drive on Crater Rim Drive?

It can take about 2 hours to complete a drive around Crater Rim Drive spanning 17 km, which includes stops for viewpoints and short walks to nearby features. However, the duration may differ due to traffic and closures of some parts due to volcanic activity. Thorough exploration of the park's hikes and attractions may take half a day or even days depending on visitor preference. Show more

Are there any hiking trails near Crater Rim Drive with unique features, besides Devastations Trail?

Unique hiking opportunities near Crater Rim Drive include the Kilauea Iki Trail, a 6.4 km path at about 130 meters descending to the crater floor through a rainforest, a still-steaming solidified lava lake, and Sulphur Banks Trail leading to an area where sulphur-laden steam rises through mud and rocks. Show more

Ask a question

Find hotels and airbnbs near Crater Rim Drive (Map)

Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin