Experience KMC: Big Island lodge offers exclusive stay near volcano
March 3, 2014
VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, Hawaii (Feb. 28, 2014) -- Steps from one of the world's most famous volcanoes -- Kilauea, and its crater, Halema'uma'u -- Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) offers a unique, and exclusive chance for military families to stay in proximity to one of nature's great wonders.
For many who have experienced both the national park and lodging accommodations that feature working fireplaces and many other family-friendly amenities, the getaway earns a "definite must" recommendation for a Hawaii tour-of-duty adventure.
KMC is nestled within the vast acreage, here, at the summit of Kilauea and near the rim of Halema'uma'u, a sometimes-bubbling lake of lava.
The park offers driving, touring and hiking opportunities that offer the chance to explore ancient and recent fields of lava.
First opened in 1916, KMC sits 4,000 feet above sea level, with more than 60 acres set in a lush forest dotted with 91 cottages, ranging from one to seven bedrooms.
"It (KMC) has become a repeated gathering place for our valuable military members of all services, along with their spouses and children, to enjoy quality time at a secluded getaway in a unique country setting," said Randy Hart, commander of KMC from 1989 until 1992, and then serving as KMC's first civilian director for the past 20 years.
For almost a century, this mountain resort has served as a great lodging facility for military to explore the numerous exotic qualities of the island, such as the glow of the lava at Kilauea and the snow-capped peaks of Mauna Kea, one of the tallest mountains in the world.
"KMC's core mission and focus remain the same through those many decades since its origin," said Hart. "The rustic cabins of decades past, with kerosene heaters, wood-burning fireplaces and the shag carpet of the '70s, have been continuously improved to reveal modern-day interiors with abundant amenities, while still preserving the historic look of the exteriors."
KMC originated in the summer of 1916. While the military expressed an interest in stationing troops in this Hawaiian wilderness as early as 1911, it took an enterprising group of Hilo businessmen to raise the necessary funds to build and operate a permanent camp in 1916 by leasing a 52-acre parcel of what was then Bishop Estate land.
KMC greeted its first group of U.S. Army Soldiers from Company A, 2nd Infantry, Nov. 6, 1916. Three buildings for dining and recreation were still unfinished, so the visiting Soldiers were expected to provide their own sleeping tents.
A couple weeks later, Nov. 17, KMC was officially opened, and many Soldiers came to this unique site through 1917.
Due to lack of use in the early years, KMC proved unprofitable for the local businessmen. In 1921, the Army acquired control of KMC and then assigned a staff to the camp. By the end of 1922, about 5,000 enlisted men had visited KMC. The site eventually expanded to include guest cottages, a post exchange, a bakery, a barber shop, and light and water plants.
As part of the original agreement, the Navy built its own rest and recreation camp on a 14-acre parcel adjacent to KMC in 1926. The Navy camp was transferred to KMC's control in 1935, however, due to a slow resolution of the lease agreement between the Park Service and the Navy.
In the 1940s, KMC served as both a Japanese internment camp at the beginning of World War II and as a prisoner of war camp during the latter part of the war.
Numerous dignitaries have visited KMC, including Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was the Army Chief of Staff in 1946, who later became president.
KMC opened to all military branches in 1949.
Select Oahu-based Morale, Welfare and Recreation ITT and ITR offices can book KMC lodging reservations, along with other travel needs, for eligible patrons. To find out about special offerings, or to book reservations, call (808) 967-8333.
Kilauea Military Camp is open to all active and retired armed forces, Reserve/National Guard, dependents, other uniformed services, and current and retired Department of Defense civilians, including Coast Guard civilians and sponsored guests.
Reservations are accepted up to one year in advance. Camp amenities include a general store, post office, fitness center, recreation center, laundromats, café, gas station, shuttle service, conference rooms, catering and scheduled/narrated tours around the island.
"The grounds and buildings of this 62-acre resort are carefully maintained to enhance the park surroundings," said Randy Hart, KMC director.
KMC can accommodate up to 100 people in its dormitory lodging. Affordable group package arrangements can include lodging, tours, transportation, conference rooms, catering service and/or recreational activities.
The National Park Service normally collects an entrance fee of $10 per vehicle, but by showing your military common access card or dependent ID card at the entrance station, visitors are eligible to receive an annual pass valid for all U.S. National Parks.
Hawaii Island, better known as the "Big Island," is the largest of all the Hawaiian Islands and offers diverse activities and opportunities to explore, depending on which part of the island.
It's home to the largest mountains in Hawaii, an erupting volcano that has been continually active since 1983, and hosts 11 of the 13 major climate zones, ranging from dry coastal to desert to tropical lush forests to snow-capped mountains.
Hawaii Island is birthplace to both Kamehameha the Great and Hawaii's own cowboys, called paniolo.