Volcanoes are a natural phenomenon and consist of a rupture in the crust of the Earth that lava, volcanic ash, and gasses escape from. This may sound scary, (and not something you’d want to go visit) however, volcanoes can be dormant, active, or extinct depending on their most recent activity.
The U.S. is home to a range of volcanoes and for those who want to see these awe-inspiring geological formations, we’ve put together five of the best locations for a volcano road trip.
The Best Locations in the U.S. for a Volcano Road Trip
There are many reasons why you’d want to go on a road trip to see a volcano, from educational and scientific opportunities to viewing a natural wonder in all its glory. Here are the top five states in the U.S. for an epic volcano road trip.
Perhaps the most famous and one of the most-visited locations to see volcanoes, Hawaii is home to some of the most active and iconic volcanoes and lava flows in the world. From the island of Maui having the volcanoes Haleakalā and Pu’u Kukui to the Big Island hosting Kilauea, Mauna Loa, and Mauna Kea. The Big Island also hosts Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park where visitors can enjoy hiking trails, lava fields, and a chance to see lava flows at some of the active volcanoes.
With some of the most stunning backdrops the world has to offer, Hawaii has SIXT car rental centers across Hawaii from Oahu Honolulu Airport and Maui Kahului Airport, so you can head off on your epic volcano road trip as soon as you land, to other island locations like ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach and Four Seasons Resort Maui.
Washington state is home to several volcanoes and a great location for a road trip. Mount St. Helens is perhaps the most famous as it erupted over 40 years ago in 1980, leaving a massive crater and a changed landscape. You can visit Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument to learn about the eruption’s impact and explore the area. There is also the active Mount Baker and Mount Rainier (the tallest in the state), and you can enjoy hikes, trails, and stunning views at any of these three locations.
With rental car locations at Seattle Airport, your road trip to see the volcanoes in Washington can start as soon as you land.
Oregon has stunning natural landscapes, so it may come as no surprise that this region is also home to several volcanoes. With 61 in total and five that are active, if you venture on a volcanic road trip in Oregon, Mount Hood is a must-see. The highest peak in the state and the second-most climbed mountain in the world, visitors can take part in hiking, skiing, and of course, taking in the breathtaking views.
Other must-visits for any volcano enthusiast are Newberry Volcano and Crater Lake, which formed after the eruption of Mount Mazama. At SIXT, we have rental car locations in Oregon, including Portland Airport.
The Golden State may be known more for its beaches, but California is also home to several volcanoes. Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to Lassen Peak, the largest plug dome volcano in the world. From an array of hiking trails and scenic drives to bird-watching and fishing, you could easily spend a whole day or more at Lassen Volcanic National Park, whilst being surrounded by incredible views.
Other volcanoes in California are Mount Shasta near the Oregon border, Amboy Crater in the Mojave Desert, and Tumanguya in the Modoc National Forest. From landing at LAX to San Diego Airport, no matter your starting point in California, we have a range of rental car centers so you can start your road trip with ease.
In Arizona, you can visit the San Francisco Volcanic Field, the home of the Sunset Crater as well as 600 other volcanoes. There is also the Palo Verde Volcanic Field, which features basaltic lava flows and cinder cones, and Casa Grande Volcano in southern Arizona.
With rental car locations in Arizona, including Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, you can pick up your rental car as soon as you arrive in the state and head to your chosen volcano to create memories that will last a lifetime.
Tips for your U.S. Road Trip to see Volcanoes
Visiting volcanoes provides a unique experience and views you will never forget, however, there are some things to remember and be aware of before setting off on your volcanic adventure.
- Check – always check the most recent activity of the volcano you’re planning to visit and always adhere to official warnings. You can check the USGS Volcano Hazards Program for the latest information.
- Respect – many volcanic sites are located in fragile environments, so it is vital that you abide by park regulations and listen to the guides when exploring, to respect the site and keep yourself safe.
- Prepare – from sturdy walking boots to wearing plenty of sunscreen, most volcanoes are located high up and require hiking, so you need to be appropriately dressed and protect your skin in the high altitudes.
- Safety – stay on designated trails and travel with a group if possible, this means you’re traveling the safest route and will have someone with you in the event of an emergency.
- Leave no trace – from keeping the environment clean for the wildlife and animals to respecting the historical and cultural significance of the site, do not litter or move any rocks when exploring.
- Check road conditions – depending on the volcano you choose, ensure your rental car is adequately equipped for the journey. At SIXT, we offer a range of optional add-ons from GPS navigation to winter tires.