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Cool accommodations at national parks

By: Starre Vartan on June 14, 2012, 6:43 p.m.
Steam vents on rim of Kilauea caldera rim

Photo: Jay Robinson/NPS

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Volcano House

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, located near Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai'i, is home to a park that is a study in contrasts, with verdant cloud forests running smack into steaming vents and black volcanic rock with nary a plant growing from it.

Since 1846 the Volcano House lodgings have been located within the park itself, with views of the Kilauea caldera. Famous visitor Mark Twain wrote in 1866, “[t]he surprise of finding a good hotel in such an outlandish spot startled me considerably more than the volcano did.” While the hotel is currently closed for renovations, it is set to open later this year, with dramatic views intact. (This photo of Volcano House was taken from the Steam Vents area in the park, on the rim of Kilauea caldera.)

In nearby Volcano Village (a World Heritage site), you can stay at Volcano Village Lodge, in gorgeous open plan suites (one even has a meditation room) or in octagonal pavilions. All are located deep within the cloud forest, including giant ferns, ohia trees, and native orchids that has grown up around the volcanoes, which still warm the ground below. The volcanoes and incredible park is about a mile away.