Hilina Pali Overlook

Viewpoint in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

This serenely beautiful overlook looms 1700ft above the coastal flats of Hilina Slump: a semidetached landmass sinking 4in each year, and which may be primed for cataclysmic collapse. The last minor drop – 11ft during the 1975 earthquake – sent a tsunami to lap at California's coast. If the whole thing were to break free, it could trigger 1000ft waves that would annihilate Pacific civilization; though some scientists believe debris piles from previous slumps may hold Hilina in place.

Turn west off Chain of Craters Road, 2 miles past the Crater Rim intersection and follow the one-lane paved road to the end. Drive carefully – this is nene country, and your eyes will likely be popping at the endless volcanic wastelands and spectacular views of Mauna Loa. After 4 miles, you'll pass Kulanaokuaiki Campground at the end of the still-active Koaʻe fault zone.

From the road's end, you may be tempted to hit the Hilina Pali Trail, but the shoreline isn't as close as it looks, and the 'up' is leagues harder than the 'down.' However, prepared hikers can thread together a few sublime backcountry loops in this little-explored corner of the park.

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