Kilauea Iki Overlook
The next stop along the drive tour is Kilauea Iki Overlook. Another option is for the driver to drive over to the overlook while the remainder of the group walks the half mile to the area on the Crater Rim Trail. The Crater Rim Trail in its full length is eleven miles, and circles around the caldera at the summit of Kilauea. The scenery is diverse, from rainforest to desert terrain.
While it seems fairly tranquil today, back in 1959, Kilauea Iki was a boiling lava lake that contained lava fountains that reached up to 1,900 feet. Kilauea Iki crater is 3,000 feet across and a mile in length. 400 feet beneath the overlook is the floor of the crater. The Kilauea Iki Overlook is the start of the four mile loop trail around Kilauea Iki.
Nahuku-Thurston Lava Tube
The surrounding forest as visitors drive the half mile to the Thurston Lava Tube from the Kilauea Iki Overlook becomes more dense. A short trail leads to a lighted cave-like, prehistoric lava tube through a tree fern forest. The area is a great spot to listen to birds, and visitors might catch a glimpse of the red apapane among the ohi'a, feeding on the plant's red blossoms. Lorrin Thurston discovered the lava tube in 1913. When it was found, lava stalactites covered the lava tube's roof. Unfortunately, they soon disappeared due to collectors or souvenirs. A good thing to consider when walking through the Thurston Lava Tube is that red lava once rushed through this tube several hundred years ago. Visitors should also watch their head since there are a few spots where the ceiling is low. Photo: John Penisten/Fotolia
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