a VirtualTourist member from Gurnee
This is a follow-up to my previous question. So, for viewing the lava flow, if you had to choose between staying overnight in/near the park (with intent of getting as close as your athleticism allows to the flow and/or viewing it from lookouts once it's dark) or taking a helicopter tour, which would you choose? Which offers the better experience?
Aloha. Staying overnight is best, exploring the lava fields late afternoon on foot with good shoes, flashlight, water bottle, and careful steps. The Volcano House hotel sits right on the edge of the caldera and has a great restaurant with the prime rib being outstanding. The helicopter tour is exciting and is great for overhead photography but it's the old saying,"do you want to just look or touch". If you don't want to choose, do both.
I just read that the surface flows are 4 miles from the end of Chain of Craters Road. That is a LONG hike and reserved for the fittest of us all! Unless you are a true-blue hiker/outdoorsman, your attempts to see the surface flows from within HVNP should be crossed from your list.
As I posted to your other question, entering from Kalapana may be a better option. From the looks of the current flow map, it is now closer to the eastern entry near Kalapana. The Kalapana-side viewing area may or may not be open. Since it is unpublisized, your only option would be to drive around the east side of the island and see for yourself.