Far from the Big Island’s sandy beaches and crowded hotels, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park showcases the living, breathing power of Pele, the Goddess of Fire, and her striking processes of creation and destruction. Designated a national park in 1916, and a World Heritage Site in 1987, the park encompasses more than 330,000 acres, and ranges from the Pacific Ocean to the 13,677-foot summit of Mauna Loa. This vast area contains a striking variety of ecosystems, from low-elevation tropical rainforests to high-elevation volcanic deserts. The park’s most active volcano, Kīlauea, has experienced intermittent periods of eruption since the 1980s. These eruptions have enlarged the island by more than 500 acres. The most recent eruption occurred in 2018, when thermal explosions and lava flows temporarily closed the park. Some facilities and trails remain closed, but the majority of the park has reopened.
Just west of the park, about 45 minutes west of Hilo, Nāmakanipaio Campground is situated on the lower flank of Mauna Loa, near the Kīlauea Caldera. The campground offers 26 grassy campsites and 10 camper cabins shaded by tall eucalyptus and ōhi’a trees. Campsites have picnic tables and fire pits, and the campground has drinking water and flush restrooms; showers are available to cabin guests. The campground sits on the lower slope of Mauna Loa, at an elevation of 4,000 feet. Evenings can get cool, and rain—often heavy—is common. Good rain gear and, for campers, a durable, water-repellent tent fly is recommended. For those not packing camping gear on their Hawaiian vacations, the Volcano House rents camping packages that include a tent, sleeping pads, linens, a cooler, lantern and two camp chairs. Dogs are permitted in the campground, but not in cabins. Campsites are first-come, first-served for $15/night for two people; cabins are reservable for $80/night; park entrance fee required.
Camping at Nāmakanipaio is ideal for spending a few days exploring all the natural wonders in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The best place to start is the Kīlauea Visitor Center for the latest park info, trail maps, and volcanic activity updates. Park staff and volunteers offer a variety of interpretive programs on Hawaiian food, art, and culture, as well as volcanism and geology. A drive down the Chain of Craters Road reveals a variety of dramatic and colorful lava formations, craters, vents, and cinder cones. Many can be seen from viewpoints or short nature trails. There are several hiking trails that explore some of the older lava flows, and visit the Hōlei Sea Arch and Pu’u Loa Petroglyph sites. Hikers are encouraged to wear sturdy shoes, and pack along plenty of drinking water and sun protection. While the park is safe for visiting and exploring, guests should heed all safety warnings and stay out of closed areas.
great camp site, had everything you would want at a tropical camp site.
Very quiet location with nearby access to incredible hiking. The higher altitude kept the temperatures in the low 60's and perfect for sleeping. Not very many campers so it was a peaceful evening.
nice open camping sites, with restroom access and BBQ pit for pit. reasonable price per night. also has a entrance fee.
We stayed here Thanksgiving night prior to spending a day in Volcanoes national park. Given the holiday, everything was closed in town so make sure you bring some food and supplies. It was also pretty quiet and felt very safe.
In the middle of the night we woke up to RAIN! And if anyone knows rain in Hawaii is HARD - so make sure you are prepared if you decide to camp in Hawaii.
This is a great way to be close to the volcano park to get an early start.
There is a paystation on site and restrooms, firepits and picnic tables.