Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park
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Phone (808) 572-4400
Address 30,000 Haleakala Hwy, Kula, HI 96790
Dormant volcano with incredible views at it's 10,000 ft summit.

• General: National Park • General: Photo Opportunity • Hiking: Level: Difficult • Hiking: Nature Walk • Sightseeing: Great Views
• Sightseeing: Volcano / Lava Flow

Haleakala National Park is part of the United States National Park Service and is located on the island of Maui. This is one of Maui's most popular tourist destinations, with around 1.5 million visitors each year, and covers and area of 33,265 acres with 19,270 acres of pure wilderness. The name Haleakala means "house of the sun" in Hawaiian and if you've ever seen a sunrise here you'd know why! According to Hawaiian legend, the demigod Maui actually imprisoned the sun here in order to create longer days.

In 1916, Haleakala National Park was originally part of the Hawaii National Park along with the volcanoes of Mauna Kea and Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii's Big Island. Later, in 1961, The Big Island parks where broken out into their own park system now known as Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Haleakala is actually a volcano, which is dormant, that last erupted sometime between 1480 and 1600 AD. The volcano summit area makes up one section of the part while the coastal Kipahulu area makes up a second section.

The big draw is Haleakala Crater which is 7 miles across and 2 miles wide and almost 1/2 of a mile deep. Hikers can take either the Halemau'u Trail or the Sliding Sands Trail from the summit into the crater and can stay in one of three cabins overnight (advanced reservations required).

The number one reason people come here are for the views, and there is no better time for a view than sunrise. Okay, maybe sunset is just as good! And, if I'm being fair, the views during the day are pretty spectacular as well. Start at the Haleakala Visitor Center where you can get more information on all there is to see and do here along with any current conditions you'll need to be aware of.

The Haleakala Observatory is close to the Haleakala Visitor Center and is an important observation site that offers researchers excellent viewing conditions of space due to the clear skies at this height. The University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy manages this site and has been running astrophysical experiments here for over 40 years.

If you want to come for the sunrise it's no longer as simple as getting up before the crack of dawn and driving up. This place has become too popular for its own good and you now need to make a reservation at Recreation.gov. Supposedly, this is being done for "visitor and employee safety, protect natural and cultural resources, and provide a quality visitor experience at the summit during sunrise hours (3am to 7am)" and not just so they can get an additional $1.50 per car (in addition to entrance fees). Since you can reserve your spot 60 days in advance, it probably is better than getting up early and being turned away because it's full but it still stinks of a Disney vacation where you have to reserve anything you want to do months in advance.

Note that you can only buy the one day sunrise ticket online, not at the park, and it's only good on the day you reserve it for and cannot be transferred. If you don't have a reservation they won't let you enter the park until after 7:00 AM. you must have your reservation receipt and your photo ID to get in for the Haleakala sunrise. The actual park entrance fee is separate from the $1.50 reservation fee and can be paid with a credit card on the day you visit and is good for three days (but the sunrise reservation is only good for one day).

Beyond the sunrise, another popular attraction here is Hosmer's Grove. This is a unique forest of alien-like trees that include the Cedrus deodara from the Himalayas, the Japanese Cryptomeria japonica, Australian eucalyptus, and several other North American species of trees.

If you head over to the Kipahulu region of the park, which requires taking the famous (or infamous depending on your level of car sickness) Road To Hana to the southeast side of the island. This is where you'll find the popular Seven Sacred Pools / Ohe'o Gulch and some hiking trails.