How to Get to Mauna Loa Volcano

How to Get to Mauna Loa Volcano

how to get to mauna loa volcano

Those traveling to Hawaii have a lot to see, but one of the most stunning sites to visit is Mauna Loa. This volcano is one of a group of five volcanos on the Island of Hawaii. Mauna Loa’s massive dimensions extend over 18,000 cubit miles with a 120-foot peak. Mauna Loa is known to be the largest subaerial volcano and the second largest volcano in the world! Read on to learn how to get to Mauna Loa Volcano. 

Volcano Eruptions & History 

Mauna Loa has gentle slopes and although it is classified as an active shield volcano, its lava is non-explosive and extremely fluid. Experts believe the volcano has a history of 700,000 years of eruptions and believe it rose from the sea around 400,000 years ago.

There were no fatalities during the volcano’s last eruption in 1984, but unfortunately, this wasn’t always the case. Previous eruptions in 1926 and 1950 left villages desolated.

The nearby city Hilo repurposed lava flows from the 1800s as a foundation to build the city.

Mauna Loa Observatory

How to get to Mauna Loa Volcano? The first option is the Mauna Loa Observatory. This facility is located at an elevation of 11,161 feet above sea level. It serves as an atmospheric research facility and can be reached by a 17-mile, one-way paved road known as Mauna Loa Scenic Drive. Be aware that this is a steep drive built through lava flows. The drive can make people sick as it gets higher and those with respiratory problems are advised not to make the trip due to its elevation.

The drive to the observatory features breath-taking views including multi-colored lava, which is safe for any car to pass through. The best time to visit is on a clear day to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

The Backcountry

Tourists often seek out the Mauna Loa backcountry for hiking and camping. Hiking the backcountry could be quite dangerous, and it is advised that only experienced and fit hikers try it.

Blizzards and high winds are common year-round; cold wind and rain are not uncommon during the summer. 

Officials recently reopened Mauna Loa Road and the coastal backcountry. Some areas, including Ka’u Desert Trail going past the Footprints shelter and Pepeiao Cabin remain closed.

The park implements strict rules for those venturing there. There is a three consecutive night stay per site and backpackers are required to be equipped with proper backpacking equipment and have experience in high altitude wilderness hiking. A backcountry permit is required. 

See the Volcano from Above

If you would like to avoid running into lava flows, you can also see the world’s largest active volcano from above! Helicopter tours such as Tropical Helicopters take you on the Full Circle Island Experience of Hawaii Island. The ride takes you over all five volcanoes, even the currently active Kilauea Volcano. Other must-see sites such as the black, white and green sand beaches and the Kona Coffee Belt are also included. During the helicopter tour, you will also get to fly over a Hawaiian desert that is mainly familiar to natives. You will also experience 2,500-foot waterfalls and cliffs that you can only find in Hawaii.

Experience Mauna Loa in its entirety and discover a different face of Hawaii from the skies! If you have any questions on Tropical Helicopter tours or pricing, visit our FAQ page or call us at (866) 961-6810.  Book your tour today!


tropical