HONOLULU (KHON2) – On August 25, 1916, a movement lead to the establishment of the National Park Service, setting aside places for people to enjoy forever.

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Today, Hawaiʻi has 9 national park sites and 2 of the world’s most active volcanoes.    

It’s been 104 years since the National Park Service was created.  

But the first “national park” goes back to 1872 with the designation of Yellowstone.  

Here in Hawaiʻi, we have 9 national park sites today, but it all started with one.   

“Originally it was created in 1916 as Hawaiʻi National Park, and it included both the summit of Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes here on the island of Hawaiʻi as well as Haleakalā on Maui,” says Ben Hayes, Chief of Interpretation and Education at the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

More than two years ago in May of 2018, the historic 4 month eruption of Kīlauea volcano changed the park forever.

“The infrastructure at Kīlauea Overlook and Jager Museum and Hawaiian Volcano Observatory were severely damaged,” says Hayes.

“We had many, many pukas in roads, trails. New earth cracks, and combined with damaged throughout the park, we set out to fix, repair and increase access to those areas.”

While it took some time and a lot of work, the Kīlauea Overlook will reopen to visitors tomorrow, just in time for the park service’s birthday.

Despite historic low visitation caused by the eruption and then the pandemic, the park wants guests to enjoy Hawaiʻi’s natural beauty.

“When visitors are able to recreate responsibly and follow CDC, state and county guidelines in the park, parks are one of the few outdoor spaces and opportunities that help provide us with the important physical, mental and health benefits and resiliency during these challenging times.”

In 2017, the last normal year for Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park before the eruption, it was the most visited site in the state of Hawaiʻi with more than 2 million visitors.