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5 volcanoes you can actually visit: Italy, Costa Rica, Hawaii, more

The active volcano at Arenal Volcano National Park

The active volcano at Arenal Volcano National Park in Costa Rica. Photo Credit: Alamy/Art Kowalsky

For an update on ash, lava, steam and smoke, visit a volcano. These five destinations provide a multifaceted opportunity to get outside and learn more about planet Earth.

1. Mount Vesuvius, Italy. Just 16 miles southeast of Naples, Pompeii is one of the most visited archaeological sites on the planet. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in the year A.D. 79, the lava flow covered the flourishing Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The ruins, accessible to the public, are now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Hikers can ascend to the top of the inactive volcano for a grand view of the landscape. 

INFO pompeiisites.org/en

2. Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica. At the only lodge located inside the Arenal Volcano National Park, the majestic cone can be observed from most guest rooms, the dining room and the deck. The lodge serves as a great base camp for river rafting, zip lines, hanging bridges and hot springs. The last eruption of Arenal took place in 2010. Austin Lehman Adventures offers family tours to the region. 

INFO arenalobservatorylodge.comaustinlehman.com  

3. Mount St. Helens, Washington. In 1980, an earthquake of 4.2 magnitude reawakened this volcano, leading to the collapse and eruption. At the National Volcanic Monument, about 50 miles northeast of Portland, you can learn about the geologic history of the volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range though talks, walks and theater presentations. Hiking, biking and helicopter tours provide a view of the region’s recovery.

INFO parks.state.wa.us/245/mount-st-helens

4. Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Accessible only by floatplane or boat, this remote park on the Alaskan Peninsula is the site of the Novarupta volcano’s 1912 eruption, considered the 20th century’s most powerful. Visitors can observe the dense population of brown bears and fish for trout and salmon. The National Park Service staffs a visitor center, though the park is currently closed by the government shutdown.

INFO nps.gov/katm/index.htm; travelalaska.com

5. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. The only lodging option within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii Island, the historic Volcano House hotel rests on the rim of Kilauea caldera with a view toward Halemaumau crater. Learn about volcanic activity, biological diversity and Hawaiian culture through driving and walking tours. (The parks remains open during the shutdown, but all events have been canceled.)

INFO hawaiivolcanohouse.com; nps.gov/havo/index.htm

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