Haleakala’s summit stretches 10,023 feet (3,055 meters) above Maui’s world-renowned beaches. Vast swaths of its slopes—33,000 acres (13.4 hectares) from summit to sea level along the Hawaiian island’s southeastern coast—are protected within Haleakala National Park, where visitors hike, bike, camp, and catch sunsets (and sunrises) of a lifetime. Now considered a dormant volcano, Haleakala last erupted sometime between the 15th and 17th centuries.
Haleakala National Park is divided into two sections with separate access points, Haleakala Crater and the Kipahulu district. Most visitors head for the main event: Haleakala’s rocky, barren summit and its expansive lunar-like crater stretching some seven miles (11 kilometers) across. Popular guided summit tours include Haleakala sunrise tours, promising stunning views of the sea and sky, and bike tours that zip you down the volcano’s steep slopes. Some tours even couple a Haleakala sunrise with a scenic drive along Maui’s winding Road to Hana. The park’s Kipahulu district is lush, coastal, and more isolated, offering hiking and swimmable waterfall pools.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Park entry is $10 for a 3-day single-person pass or $20 for a vehicle pass that includes entry for everyone in the car. Guided tours usually include park admission.
- Not all of Hawaii is warm. At Haleakala’s summit, plan for wind, rain, and temperatures between 30°F and 50°F (-1°C and 10°C).
- Due to the high elevation, you may experience altitude sickness. It’s best to slowly make your way up to allow for time to get acclimated. Return to lower elevation if you experience any telltale signs including nausea, headache, and shortness of breath.
- Haleakala has nearly 40 (64 kilometers) miles of hiking paths. If planning to hike, stay on designated trails to minimize effects on the area’s flora and fauna, many of which are endangered.
- The park’s main visitor center—with informational displays and helpful rangers—closes at 3:45pm daily.
- While park trails are unpaved and unsuitable for wheelchairs, the summit’s visitor centers and Hosmer Grove picnic area are wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
To reach Haleakala National Park, you need to book a tour or arrive by car; there is no public transport into the park itself. Driving time from the resort areas of Kihei and Kaanapali is about two hours to the summit, or three to four hours to Kipahulu. Summit access is via Upcountry Maui, passing through the quaint town of Makawao along Routes 377 and 378.
When to Get There
Haleakala National Park is open 24 hours a day, year-round. On clear mornings, many visitors take advantage of the peak’s lofty vantage point to watch the colorful sunrise, with tours departing as early as 2am to arrive in time. If you’re crowd adverse, try a sunset tour where, on clear nights, an equally spectacular explosion of color bleeds into top-notch stargazing. Tours meet on the mountain a few hours before sunset.
Spotting Haleakala’s Rare Silverswords
The volcano’s slopes are home to an extremely rare and Dr. Seuss–like plant: the Haleakala silversword. The bizarre, bushy, and silver-colored plants are found only here and can live for up to 90 years. Silverswords flower only once, sending up a spectacular flowering stalk—and dying shortly thereafter. You’ll find them at the Haleakala summit, the Kalahaku Overlook, and along Sliding Sands Trail, a several-mile round-trip hike.