The true definition of AWESOME! Volcano National Park!

Everything I am about to highlight can be found at the Volcano National Park website.
Kilauea at Night

Our final Big Day takes us to Volcano National Park. Much like Rocky Mountain N.P. you can lose yourself in hiking trails and 4K ft elevation changes of natural wonder. Unlike RMNP, you see the world on fire, the bluest ocean and a bustling rainforest all in one location.

Pu'u Pau'i Cone
with Kilauea Steam
The trail across the caldera
is in the background
A must see is Jaggar Observatory at night. This is the best place to view Kilauea Caldera (night or day). During the day, the crater spews visible steam mixed with sulphuric acid. But at night, the deep under ground magma casts an erie glow, reminding everyone that you are standing on an active volcano and are at the will of Pele's grace (Goddess of Fire). I have only seen a few things that are truly awesome. Grand Canyon, lambing arctic glaciers and a steaming caldera at night - AWESOME.
If a Tree falls in a forest,
will the branches grow up? 

Steam Facial Anyone? 
If you only have one day to explore VNP, a must do is Kilauea Iki Trail. A 4 mile loop that descends through a tropical rainforest into the Kilauea Iki Crater and ends at Thurston Lava Tube. The crater itself is vast and barren and only 50 years ago was a molten lake of roiling magma. The Pu'u Pau'i Cone is a towering red landmark on the edge of the crater, separating Kilauea Caldera with it's little sister, Kilauea Iki. From just under this cone, in 1959, Kilauea Iki belched-forth 31 million cubic meters of the hottest lava ever recorded, filling itself half-full. At one time this caldera was 800 ft deep, its now a mere 400 ft. deep. Rainwater collects in the middle of this crater in the porous, feather-light pumice. The water is heated from the still hot core and steamed-out, it gives you quite the nice spa effect. We traipsed across the well-worn trail and ascended the 400 ft back up and out, but not without a picnic and a long drink of water.

We emerged from the rainforest and crossed the overlook and entered the Thurston Lava Tube. This is an expansive straw of lava formed when the bottom, sides and top cooled first and the ring of lava insulated the hot center, allowing the pa'hoehoe (smooth, flowing) lava to continued to snake through, leaving a voided center.

Today, roots from trees above-ground grow into the ceiling and drip moisture and other nutrients for buggy cave spiders and bats. This particular tube has been cleared of craggy rocks, lighted and dumbed-down for the general safety of the lowest common denominator.

To experience a sufficient tour of VNP, I recommend taking the Chain of Craters Road. This is a 3600' elevation drop to the ocean via car and only an 18 mile drive. It's a pretty damn impressive road trip of cones & craters, dated modern lava flows and benches of new land. At the end of the new land is a beautiful lava arch carved by Namaka (Pele's sister and enemy, the Goddess of the Sea). Myth claims that Pele and Namaka are in a state of constant battle between the forces of fire and the forces of water (kind of like a couple of daughters I know).

Finally, you come to the end of the road, at least what is now the end of the road. At one time you could drive through this area to the other side and up to the town of Pahoa (and even camp). Now you can see where recent lava-flows from Pu'u O'o has covered the road, if you come at night, off in the distance, you can see the fiery river currently erupting. Of course, during the day, this appears as steam clouds. The current active caldera is on private land and inaccessible for most humans. There is an 8-mile hike to a much closer overlook, but not advised for those with kids.

So, at the end of Chain of Craters road is where my father, several years ago when it was actively flowing, broke-off lava and claimed he knew the date of birth of these rocks. (Cheeky!)

We thoroughly loved our tour of VNP and feel so blessed that we can take our kids on such awesome sights. They want to explore, yearn to learn and absorb so much. Take your kids, it's so worth it!