Top Things to Do When Visiting Haleakala

We love visiting Haleakala National Park!

The massive Maui volcano that is Haleakala, or the East Maui Volcano, forms more than 75% of our Hawaiian Island of Maui. That is incredible! The western 25% of Maui is formed by a different volcano, Mauna Kahalawai, or the West Maui Mountains.

The tallest peak of Haleakala rises to 10,023 feet. The summit looks down into a massive depression about 7 miles across, 2 miles wide, and nearly 2,600 feet deep. WOWZA! Seriously a breathtaking view.

“House of the Sun”

In Hawaiian folklore, the crater at the summit of Haleakalā was where the Demigod Maui captured the sun. By capturing the sun, Maui was able to slow the sun’s flight across the sky – thus lengthening the day so that his mother could dry her kapa cloth. This Hawaiian legend is where the name Haleakalā or “House of the Sun” comes from.

National Park

Haleakalā National Park surrounds and includes the crater and is 30,183 acres, of which 24,719 acres are wilderness. It is open 24 hours per day, 365 days a year except during extreme weather events. Restrooms and drinking water are always available.

There are various experiences to choose from when exploring around:

  • Sunrise or sunset
  • Hiking
  • Camping (drive-up and backcountry)

Whatever you choose, be prepared. The Summit and Kīpahulu Districts are remote so ambulance can take up to 45 minutes to arrive at either district. There is also no food, beverages, or gasoline in the park.

Weather

Temperatures commonly range between 30 to 65 degrees F (-1 to +18 degrees C), and can reach below freezing at any time with the wind-chill factor.

Also, given the thin air and the possibility of dehydration at that elevation, the walking trails can be more challenging than one might expect. This is aggravated by the fact that trails lead downhill from parking areas into the crater. Because of this, hikers are faced with a difficult return ascent after potentially descending 2000ft or more to the crater floor.

Sunrise or Sunset

Keep in mind that starting February 1, 2017 prior reservations are now required to enter the park between 3-7am to view sunrise. You can make online reservations up to 60 days in advance of your visit by going to recreation.gov.

The cost is $1.50 per car but keep in mind the reservation fee is not part of the entrance fee. Entrance fees will be collected upon entry to the park. For more information on reservations visit here.

There is no reservation required any time after 7am so an impromptu sunset is always an option!

Hiking

haleakala national park

There is no better way to experience Haleakala National Park than on your own two feet! The summit area has over 30 miles of hiking trails. Trails range from 10 minutes to multi-day overnight trips.  When beginning your hike on a downward slope, allow for twice the time hiking to get out.

For example, 15 minutes hiking down + 30 minutes up = 45 minute hike.

Trails can be strenuous in the Summit Area because the high-elevation causes a lower concentration of oxygen in each breath. Be on guard for symptoms: nausea, headache, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

Camping

The park offers two car accessible campgrounds: Kīpahulu and Hosmer Grove. Kīpahulu campground is near sea level on the wet, east-side of the island in the Kīpahulu area of the park, which is reached via the Hana Highway. Hosmer Grove is on the way to the summit, high on the windy slopes of Haleakala. No permit or reservation required or accepted.

There are also two backcountry campsites which are accessible only by trail: Hōlua and Palikū. Permits are required for camping at these sites. Both campsites have pit toilets and water available nearby. The water is non-potable and must be filtered or treated before drinking.

Both drive-up and backcountry campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

What to Bring

No matter what Haleakala adventure you choose, make sure you are prepared! We recommend the following:

  • Sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunblock)
  • Cold/wet weather clothing (raingear, pants, jacket, gloves)
  • Food (no food for sale in the park)
  • Water bottle or hydro-pak (drinking water available at visitor centers)
  • Sturdy shoes (hiking boots or athletic shoes)
  • Camera! This breathtaking volcano makes for amazing pictures!

About Skyline Eco-Adventures

Skyline Eco Adventures is the first zipline company in the USA. Skyline’s mission is to provide a safe and exciting means for seeing and experiencing the natural wonder of the Hawaiian Islands. Skyline has four zipline tour courses on three islands and additional tours such as the Lava N’ Zip Tour, Zip N’ Dip Tour on the Big Island and the Haleakala Sunrise Bike N’ Zip Tour on Maui.

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