STEVE EMBER: This is Steve Ember.SARAH LONG: And this is Sarah Long with the VOA Special English programEXPLORATIONS. Today, we visit two of the most unusual national parks in the UnitedStates. They are Volcanoes National Park and Haleakala National Park, both in Hawaii.(MUSIC)STEVE EMBER: Let me ask you a question: What is the tallest mountain on Earth?Most school children will say the answer is Mount Everest near the border between Nepaland Tibet.There is something that is three hundred four meters taller than Mount Everest.However, it is mainly underwater. It begins at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and risesmore than seventeen kilometers from the ocean floor.Its name is Mauna Loa. In the Hawaiian language, Mauna Loa means “Long Mountain.”Mauna Loa is more than half of the island of Hawaii, the largest of the Hawaiian Islands.It is also the largest and most active volcano on Earth. It has produced liquid rock calledlava more than thirty times since records were first kept in eighteen forty-three. Today,Mauna Loa is quiet. It is not producing lava. However volcano experts say it is only amatter of time before this happens once again.SARAH LONG: Mauna Loa is not the only volcano on the island of Hawaii. There arefour others. Three of them are no longer active. One of them still is active. It is namedKilauea.It has produced lava more than fifty times in the last one hundred years. At this moment,red hot lava is pouring out of Kilauea. It has been doing this since nineteen eighty-three.Sometimes the lava moves slowly. At other times it pours out very fast as huge amountsof pressure force it from the volcano. During these times, it moves almost as quickly aswater moving down the side of a mountain. Sometimes Kilauea produces large amountsof lava that seem like rivers of fire.STEVE EMBER: When the lava from Kilauea reaches the ocean, its fierce heat producesgreat amounts of steam that rise into the air. The lava is so hot it continues to burnunderwater for some time. The lava from Kilauea continues to add land to the island asthe volcanoes of Hawaii have always done. It is these volcanoes that formed the islandsof Hawaii.Most of the time the lava of Kilauea seems to move peacefully toward the ocean. Yet it isnot as peaceful as it seems from a distance. In recent years the lava destroyed one smalltown on the island. The liquid rock slowly covered the town. It blocked roads and
destroyed them. Nothing can stop the lava of Kilauea. Experts say the volcanoes of Mauna Loa and Kilauea are a serious threat to property on many parts of the island.Experts say the volcanoes of the island of Hawaii are proof that the changingenvironment of Earth is, and will always remain, beyond human control.(MUSIC)SARAH LONG: Mauna Loa and Kilauea together form Volcanoes National Park inHawaii. But another national park has a huge volcano. It is on the island of Maui. It isthe Haleakala National Park. Haleakala in the Hawaiian language means “House of theSun.”Haleakala is another huge volcano. Together with a smaller, much older volcano ithelped form the island of Maui. It is no longer considered to be active. In aboutseventeen ninety, two areas in the side of the huge volcano opened and lava came out.The lava moved down the mountain and into the sea. That was the last recorded activityat Haleakala.The volcano that contains Haleakala National Park rises three thousand fifty metersabove the sea. We would like to take you for a visit to Haleakala. For a few minutes, sit back while we drive the road up to the top of the volcano.(MUSIC)STEVE EMBER: Our trip begins near the ocean today. We drive through the city of Kahului. We see businesses and homes, the buildings you find in any American city.There are more flowers than in many American cities. The Hawaiian Islands are famousfor their flowers.Soon the road begins to go up. The road moves back and forth and around corners as itmoves up the face of the mountain. At times our driver must slow the vehicle and turnvery sharply. Soon, there are no more homes or stores.From the city of Kahului to the top of Haleakala is about fifty-five kilometers. We will be three thousand fifty meters higher at the top of the mountain.Very soon, we no longer see trees. We have traveled too high for them to survive. Soonthere are only a few plants. Then there is nothing but black lava rock. At one place, we begin to enter the clouds that hang close to the mountain. Our driver turns on theheadlights of the vehicle. Ten minutes later, we are above the clouds in the brightsunshine.The road is good, so the trip takes only about an hour.
SARAH LONG: The National Park Headquarters is about two kilometers from the top.Park officials at the information center tell you about the history of the volcano. Theysay that it is very safe — today. They also tell you that it could very well become activeagain. The experts just do not know.We soon leave the Park Headquarters and travel up again, this time to the top. There isan area here to leave our vehicle. We walk the last few meters to the top.As we reach the top, almost everyone says similar things. How strange! Did the violenceof a volcano form this? This is so beautiful!STEVE EMBER: We are on the top looking down inside what was the most active partof the volcano. The shape is almost like a circle except the sides have been stretched — almost the shape of an egg but longer.There are only a few plants here and no trees. However the volcano has left thousands of different shapes of lava stone. Hundreds of years of rain and bright sun have cut long paths in the stone.Time has turned the oldest lava to a soft sand. There are huge mountains. There are alsosmaller hills that seem to be made of ash or sand. The place is a riot of color.
The Hawaiian silversword has developed over millions of years. It is found in no other  place in the worldOne big mountain seems to be a deep, dark red. Another area seems almost yellow.Another is green, and still another is a beautiful brown color. One area is colored graythat seems to move into a deep black. It looks as if someone has spilled many colors of  paint over the huge area. The volcano produced these colors because the lava is very richin many kinds of minerals.
SARAH LONG: The area we are seeing stretches for a long distance. This morning,high on the mountain in the bright sun, we can see almost forty kilometers of the park.And this is only part of it. There are eleven thousand five hundred ninety-six hectares of land in the park.Some of the park is closed to visitors. Scientists do research in those areas. Experts aretrying to learn how to grow and protect some of the very unusual plants that live inHaleakala.One of these plants is called the Silver Sword. It grows only in Hawaii. It has long, thin,silver leaves. It is very beautiful and unusual.The Hawaiian nene goose also lives here. It is a large bird. Visitors are asked not tocome too near the nene. Experts are helping both the Silver Sword plants and the nenegeese to reproduce so they will not disappear from the Earth.(MUSIC)
The Hawaiian Goose, known as the nene, is an endangered bird species that nests atHaleakalaSTEVE EMBER: Thousands of visitors each year enjoy Haleakala National Park on theisland of Maui, and Mauna Loa and Kilauea on the island of Hawaii. Ships stop at thetwo islands and buses take the groups of visitors to see these huge volcanoes.Many people also fly over the volcanoes in airplanes or helicopters. This is a safe and popular method of watching Kilauea’s lava moving slowly toward the ocean. Other  people see it from ships.Visitors also may walk into the rain forest created by the volcanothousands of years ago. Here they can see Waimoku Falls where water drops onehundred twenty meters down the face of a mountain.
of 5