National Parks

Top National Parks to See Volcanoes

Mt Rainier
Covered with snow and glaciers year-round Mt. Rainier is a beacon in the park. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Kids love things that go BOOM! And so do adults. So plan a visit to a National Park that features a volcano. Your school-age kids will surprise you with how much they know about volcanic forces. And everyone is fascinated by watching the live seismic readings at these volcanic hotspots. Read on for the top National Parks for volcanoes.

Top National Parks for Volcanoes

Yellowstone National Park

Mt St. Helens National Volcano

Mount Rainier National Park

Lassen National Volcano National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Devil Tower National Monument

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Sunset Crater National Monument

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Lava Beds National Monument

Capulin Volcano National Monument

El Malpais National Monument

Katmai National Park and Preserve

Aniakchak National Monument

Old Faithful Geyser with a Rainbow. Old Faithful Inn with kids.
Spend a unforgettable family vacation with your family at Yellowstone National Park. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Yellowstone National Park

The first national park is actually a super volcano. So head to Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful to learn more about the volcanic activity in Yellowstone National Park.

First the Upper Geyser Basin boasts the world’s largest concentration of geysers. Yellowstone’s hydrothermal features demonstrate its volcanic energy with three powerful eruptions over the last two million years.

Since the magna is so close to the surface, see the water bubble and boil away in the Upper Geyser Basin. And geysers are the star of the geothermal show when they blow mist and steam over a hundred feet into the air.

Old Faithful Geyser erupts on average about every 90 minutes, though the range can be 50 to 127 minutes. With an eruption lasting for a little over a minute to 5 minutes, each spews at least 3,700 gallons of water over a hundred feet into the air.

Though Old Faithful isn’t the only show. So check out other interesting geothermal features in the Upper Geyser Basin.

  • Hot Springs—Pools of hot water in an array of colors
  • Mudpots—Hot sulfuric acid breaks down the rock into a smelly clay that bubbles on the surface.
  • Fumaroles—A steam vent without a lot water

Yellowstone National Park is open 365-days a year and 24-hours a day and located in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Use an America the Beautiful annual pass ($80) or purchase a 7-day pass for $35 per vehicle.

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Explore Mount St. Helens with kids while in Washington.
A one-mile wide crater dominates the landscape at Mount St. Helens. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Park

In 1980 on a quiet Sunday morning the snowcapped mountain of Mount St. Helens vaporized. Once a recreational playground for Washington, a mudslide decimated its forest and a crater remained where the peak once stood.

After the eruption, Mount St. Helens went from a 9,677-foot snow-capped peak to a 8,363-foot mountain with a one-mile wide, horseshoe-shaped crater. Since the 1980 eruption, Mount St. Helens continues to rumble, with intermittent episodes of venting steam and erupting lava domes. The majority of the area is closed to visitors so scientists can continue to monitor the volcanic activity.

A trip to Mount St. Helens with kids is a must for your Washington road trip. And the vistors center offers a Junior Ranger program with a dramatic film.

The Johnston Ridge Observatory is located at 24000 Spirit Lake Highway in southern Washington State. Open from mid-May until October the visitor center hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Admission is $8 per person for visitors 16 and over.

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Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier tops 14,000 feet as an active volcano and the most glaciated peak in the lower 48. Summer activities include hiking and biking along with fall leave peeping and springtime wildflowers.

Two main visitor areas, Longmire, the original park headquarters from 1899, with historic buildings and the National Park Inn. Or the seasonal Paradise area, the jump-off point for climbers and home to the historic Paradise Inn (open seasonally).

Located in central Washington State, use Highway 706, the National Park Highway, to access the Longmire area. Mount Rainier National Park is open 365-days a year and 24-hours a day. Use an America the Beautiful annual pass ($80) or purchase a 7-day pass for $30.

What to do in Lassen National Park with kids. Top National Parks for Volcanoes
Take a hike to see Lassen Peak during your visit. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Lassen National Volcanic National Park

Sitting at the convergence of two mountain ranges, Lassen Volcanic National Park contains features from both. Find legendary volcanic activity of the Cascade Mountain Range to the north. Then enjoy the evergreen forests and epic vistas of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to the south.

And Lassen Peak is one of the largest plug volcanoes in the world. Then  find all four types of volcanoes at Lassen Volcanic National Park. So look for volcanic features throughout the park like mudpots and fumeroles, along with steam vents and sulphur springs.

  • Shield—Mount Harness, near Juniper Lake
  • Cinder ConeCinder Cone, near Butte Lake
  • Plugged Dome—Lassen Peak
  • Composite—Brokeoff Mountain, near the southern entrance

Lassen Volcanic National Park is open 365-days a year and 24-hours a day and Located northeast of San Francisco. Use an America the Beautiful annual pass ($80) or purchase a 7-day pass for $30 per vehicle.

The main road through Lassen National Park closes for snow. Though Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway usually opens up in late May or early June and closes in late October or early November.

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Hawaii-Volcanoes-NP
Once a spewing caldron of lava, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is quiet. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was the source for observing active lava flows. Even Mark Twain saw it on his visit in the 1860s.

After the eruption of 2018, the lava lake has drained and the lava flows went underground. Though learn about Vog, or volcanic smog, along with the constant monitoring that’s performed.

 

First start at the Kilauea Visitor Center to learn about the recent eruption. Then explore the Crater Rim Drive and stop at all the overlooks.

Located at 1 Crater Rim Dr on the Hilo side of the island. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is open 365-days a year and 24-hours a day. Use an America the Beautiful annual pass ($80) or purchase a 7-day pass for $25 per vehicle to explore.

The visitor center is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Top National Parks for Volcanoes. Crater Lake
Crater Lake offers a sapphire lake and quaint historic lodge. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Crater Lake National Park

About 7,700 years ago a massive eruption caused a peak to collapse. Then over the years, rain and snow fill the area to form the deepest lake in the U.S.

First drive the Scenic Rim Drive during the summer. Or grab a drink and sit in one of the rocking chairs behind the Crater Lake Lodge. From November to May, the road is plowed to the Rim Village only, and find many trail closures.

Located at southern Oregon, take Highway 62 to the Western Entrance (open year-round). Crater Lake National Park is open 365-days a year and 24-hours a day. Use an America the Beautiful annual pass ($80) or purchase a 7-day pass for $25 per vehicle to explore in summer and $15 from fall to spring.

Devils Tower National Monument for families in Wyoming. Top National Parks for Volcanoes
Add Devils Tower National Monument to your Wyoming road trip itinerary. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Devil Tower National Monument

As the largest example of columnar jointing in the world, many theories exist as to its formation. Though most theories conclude it’s made of magma. And be sure to look closely at the rock face for climbers.

Located 33 miles northeast of Moorcraft, Wyoming, on Wyoming Highway 24,Devils Tower is open 24-hours a day and closed Christmas and New Years Day. Use an America the Beautiful annual pass ($80) or purchase a 7-day pass for $25 per vehicle to explore the monument.

The Visitors Center opens from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the summer season and opens from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the rest of the year.

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What to do in Bend with kids, Top National Parks for Volcanoes
Hike to the Newberry Fire Lookout when exploring the volcano. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Start at the Lava Lands Visitor Center to get an overview. Then head to the top of the Lava Butte, a mountain of lava that looks exactly like lava mulch.

Or hike to the Big Obsidian Flow, a 1-mile loop moderate trail with a 500-foot elevation gain. The obsidian, or Black Glass, was formed 1,300 years ago and is the youngest lava flow in Oregon.

Newberry National Volcanic Monument is open year-round and located about 30 miles from Bend, Oregon. The visitor centers are open seasonally from May 1 to October 31. The monument requires admission, use an America the Beautiful annual pass ($80) or purchase a day-use pass for $5 per vehicle, good at all designated parking lots.

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Sunset Crater National Monument

Explore an area protecting two different volcanoes. First, the Sunset Crater Volcano is a 1000-foot cinder cone. Then the Lenox Crater Volcano is a 300-foot cinder cone.

During your visit, check out the Bonito Lava Flow with several trails. Then drive through the park to the neighboring Wupatki National Monument.

Located at 6082 Sunset Crater near Flagstaff in northern Arizona. Open 7-days a weeks, 24-hours a day and closed on December 25. Use an America the Beautiful annual pass ($80) or purchase a 7-day pass for $25.

The visitor center is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

See the black ocean of lava with wave after wave in Southern Idaho from the highway. It’s looks like a moonscape for sure.

Then drive the 7-mile loop originating out of the visitor center. And to see the lava fields up close.

Located off U.S. Highway 20/26/93 in-between Arco and Carey, Idaho. Craters of the Moon National Monument is open 365-days a year and 24-hours a day. Use an America the Beautiful annual pass ($80) or purchase a 7-day pass for $20.

Lava Beds National Monument

Half a million years ago, the Medicine Lake Shield Volcano started to erupt. So find 800 caves along with Native American rock art.

First drive the Cave Loop Drive during your visit. Then walk through the visitor center.

Located at 1 Indian Well near Tulelake on the northern California border. Lava Beds National Monument is open 365-days a year and 24-hours a day. Use an America the Beautiful annual pass ($80) or purchase a 7-day pass for $25.

The visitor center is open every day with seasonal hours and closed major holidays.

Capulin Volcano National Monument

Note: Volcano Road is washed out until Spring 2020. It’s the road that winds around to the top of Capulin Volcano.

For 10,000 years humanity has been living around Capulin Volcano. While exploring the area, take the Lava Flow Trail hike at the base of the volcano.

Located at 44 Volcano Road in Northeast New Mexico. Capulin Volcano National Monument is open from dawn-to-dusk. And free to enter until Volcano Road reopens.

El Malpais National Monument

Explore lava tube caves, cinder cones and sandstone bluffs at this northern New Mexico National Monument.

Start at the El Malpais National Monument, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for major holidays. Located south of exit 85 off I-40. Grounds open from dawn-to-dusk.

Katmai National Park and Preserve

Located along the Ring of Fire, this area offers lots of volcanic activity. And in the last 100 years, three volcanoes have erupted.

Along with volcanic activity, Katmai is a prime bear watching site. And it’s only accessed by plane or boat.

It’s open 24-hours a day and 7 days a week. There is no fee to enter.

Aniakchak National Monument

Located along the Aleutian Islands, Aniakchak National Monument is one of the least visited sites. In addition it’s home to a six-mile wide deep caldera from an eruption 3,500 years ago.

Aniakchak National Monument is a prime bear watching site. And it’s only accessed by plane or boat.

It’s open 24-hours a day and 7 days a week. There is no fee to enter.

Kids love things to go BOOM. So head to a National Park dedicated to Volcanoes. Learn about seismic everything while hiking along lava fields, cinder cones, lava tubes and volcanic craters. Here's a list of the top volcanic national parks. #NPS #NationalParks #Volcanoes | Places to see volcanoes | National Parks with Volcanoes

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