Things To Do Between Volcano Village and Hilo

My first day staying in Volcano Village, I spent exploring west of town on the Ka’u Coast and then ate lots of macadamia nuts at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Visitor Center before spending a peaceful hour in Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens in the late afternoon. I spent the entire second day in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

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Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Having been on the Big Island for four days now, I finally set foot in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, one of the biggest reasons for me visiting the Big Island. Though I researched the park before coming to make sure it was accessible due to the eruption of Kīlauea Volcano that damaged countless homes, I still wasn’t sure what to expect.

I learned 90% of the park is open, though a few popular places such as the Jagger Museum and the Thurston Lava tube are still closed due to instability. I was also surprised to learn that the lava flow was mostly northeast of the park in Leilani Estates.

In addition, the eruption drained the lava from the collapsed Pu’u ‘O’o Crater, so hiking at night to see the lava glow wasn’t an option. Though slightly disappointed by this, it made the logistics of when and where to go a lot easier!

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Hawaii’s Kohala Coast

The Kohala Coast

After a full 12 hour day driving the Hamakua Coast from Kona yesterday, I opted for the closer Kohala Coast today. It still felt like a lot of driving, and if I had it to do over again, I’d probably just stay in Waikoloa Village at one of the resorts and relax a little more given my short time here. That said I have a problem with FOMO, fear of missing out, so I had to see everything!

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Hawaii’s Hamakua Coast

The Big Island

My first stop on my six week adventure of island hopping was to the Big Island of Hawaii. I only allotted a week of time, and I quickly learned this was not enough. Each side of the island, Kona on the west coast and Hilo on the east coast each deserve a week with all the optional side trips and a few days of relaxation.

During my time in Kona, I spent a day exploring the Hamakua Coast. While I saw many places, each stop was very brief and it was a very full day of driving. If I had to do it over again, I’d limit my stops to about three places at which to spend more time rather than feeling like I was always in the car. Anyway, these are the places I visited.

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Things to Do in Salt Lake City

About Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah and its most populated city.  It was founded in 1847 by the church followers led by Brigham Young who fled the east to escape persecution.  It is now home to the world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints. 

The immigration of church members, mining booms, and construction of the first transcontinental railroad spurred Salt Lake City’s growth.  Now Salt Lake City has developed a strong outdoor recreation industry based around skiing, and it is known for hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics.

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Hikes in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Little Cottonwood Canyon

Little Cottonwood Canyon is located in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest approximately 15 miles east of Salt Lake City.  It was created by a glacier many years ago.  Its quartz and granite, mined by the Latter Day Saint pioneers, was used to construct the Salt Lake Temple. There are several excellent trails in Little Cottonwood Canyon, though my favorites are quite long.

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Lake Blanche near Salt Lake City

Hikes in Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon is conveniently located just east of Salt Lake City along Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byway, State Route 190, which also travels over Guardsman Pass to Park City.  The 15-mile long canyon provides access to many outdoor activities including hiking, biking, camping, and fishing in the summer and snowboarding and skiing in the winter at its two ski resorts, Brighton and Solitude.

During my three-week stay in Salt Lake City, I explored several trails in the area including Brighton Lakes, Desolation Lake, Twin Lakes and Lake Blanche.  What do all of these trails have in common?  At least one lake.  All of the trails were lovely, but if I had to pick one, it would be Lake Blanche.

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Hikes in American Fork Canyon

American Fork Canyon

The American Fork Canyon is part of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and is located southeast of Salt Lake City off State Route 92, a popular scenic byway that attracts over 1 million visitors a year.  As a result, entry requires a $6 three-day pass, a $12 weekly pass, a $45 yearly pass, or a National Parks pass.

I spent three weeks in Salt Lake City, and of the five areas to hike within 60 miles east of the city, Emigration Canyon, Mill Creek Canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Little Cottonwood Canyon, and American Fork Canyon, I favored the latter.  The hillsides dotted in aspen and lakes tucked beneath glacier carved peaks are simply spectacular.

The American Fork Canyon offers visitors several hiking options from easy to hard.  Some of my favorites include: Stewart Falls, Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Silver Glance Lake and Emerald Lake.

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