Big Island park records 15K visitors
Guest numbers are on par with past Septembers, when visitation typically falls
HILO (AP) — More than 15,000 people have visited Hawaii Volcanoes National Park since it partially reopened last month, according to the National Park Service.
The park reopened on National Public Lands Day — when admission was free — after closing in May because of the Kilauea volcano eruption, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Thursday.
Nearly 2,700 people visited the park on Sept. 22, the day of its reopening, according to park figures. The park had nearly 2,000 visitors each day of the following week.
The visitor numbers are on par with past Septembers, the month when park visitation typically falls, said Cindy Orlando, the park’s superintendent. The turnout has been impressive considering much of the park remains closed because of damage caused by the effects of the eruption, she said.
Park officials have not yet discussed a second phase of reopening, Orlando said. The park’s trails are still undergoing assessments, and some areas are still unstable and prone to rock falls.
“Sometimes a trail looks fine, and then the next day there’s a boulder on it,” Orlando said.
The park might consider opening some backcountry trails next, but no definitive plans have been set, Orlando said.
Volcanic activity caused earthquakes and the collapse of the Halemaumau crater in the park.
Ash clouds also blew from the summit crater and covered the area in volcanic debris. Some park areas received severe damage, leaving officials unsure if they will ever reopen to the public.
The areas restricted to visitors are unsafe, park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane said.
Park service officers apprehended three visitors who were caught sneaking into a closed area near Jaggar Museum the day after reopening. All three were cited for closure violations and one received a disorderly conduct citation.