Click on the image for a larger size.
Still about 1 ½ miles inland from the Hawaii County Viewing Area and a little over two miles from the ocean, the surface flow of lava is robust and quite easily seen from anywhere along the last mile of highway 130 and the viewing area beyond.
I took the photo above with a 300mm lens at around 8:00 PM last night from the visitor’s parking lot, which is the trailhead for the viewing area. In the photo you can see one very bright lava section, this is where a massive falls of lava broke over and down a steep pali (cliff).
This surface flow is crusting over itself as it moves down the mountain from the eruption zone, some four miles further up, forming lava tubes that insulate the hotter lava, keeping the length of the flow strong while delivering new lava to the leading edges. If this keeps up we should have a spectacular viewing of lava pouring across the coastal flats and perhaps reaching the ocean in the days, weeks ahead. The new County lava viewing area may be in a prime location for this.
At present, the flow is still over a mile and a half away from public access so binoculars are helpful to zoom in on it. And as usual, the lava is best seen after sunset. For new visitors to the area it is nice to be out there before dark to enjoy the raw lava landscape and then wait for nightfall, but you will need flashlights (oftentimes vendors there sell them). The County viewing area is open to the public from 2:00 PM to 10:00 PM, with last car allowed in at 8:00 PM; they are open seven days per week.
See my previous post for more information.