Haleakala National Park affords some of the best sky views and richest rainforest diversity anywhere in the country. The park is divided into two districts, both of which are must-sees.
The Summit District sits atop the Haleakala Volcano, almost always offering expansive views across clear skies or the clouds below. Sunrise, sunset, and stargazing are the highlights here, but also make sure you take time to hike some of the high-elevation trails.
The lower Kipahulu District offers an entirely different landscape and experience. Hike one of the district’s many trails, and you may happen upon tall waterfalls, high cliffs, colorful birds, and exotic flora, to name just some of the rainforest’s features. There also are enticing pools — but swimming isn’t recommended for safety reasons.
To learn more about each of the districts at Haleakala National Park, check what ranger programs are available during your visit. Most of these programs are free after you’ve paid park admission ($30), and there are programs for all interests and ages.
Drive-up camping for tents and RVs is also available on a per-night basis at Haleakala National Park. For affordable lodging in a tropical oasis, these sites are some of the best and also most coveted. Book early to secure one.
You’ll need to spend a couple of days at Haleakala National Park in order to do the parks’ two districts justice. These days will be some of the best time you spend on Maui.
A few of the highlights we like at Haleakala National Park include:
You’ll have to wake early if you want to reach the summit of Haleakala Volcano by sunrise. Watching the sun come up over the clouds is worth setting your alarm for 3:00 a.m. (in some seasons), though. Be sure to make reservations for when you want to view.
If arousing the crew for sunrise isn’t feasible, sunset can be similarly captivating. Watch the colors above the clouds change as dusk approaches, and stay as the stars begin to appear. Again, book a reservation for when you’d like to view it.
Haleakala Volcano provides a unique opportunity to view the night sky. Not only are the stars more visible from such a high and remote location, but the outlay of the stars is different than it is in other places across North America. Make a reservation, and consult the park’s star guide to familiarize yourself before your visit.
Alpine Desert Hike
The Alpine Desert Hikes are rigorous due to their elevation, but there’s no better way to understand the volcano’s ancient history. Pass through former lava lows and pu’u (eruption sites), and note silversword that’s one of the few plants to survive here. All of the hikes are demanding, but shorter and easier ones are available.
Coastal District Hike
Few hikes can take in as much of Maui as the Kipahulu District’s Coastal Hikes. Choose one of the several Coastal District Hikes, and you could pass by waterfalls, ocean vistas, archaeological sites, freshwater streams, and other features. Keep an eye out for the birds who sing along the way.
-The weather atop Haleakala Volcano will differ from the weather below. Dress for much cooler temperatures, and go regardless of how cloudy the skies might be. You’ll probably encounter clear and cold skies once you reach the summit. (Sunscreen is also particularly important.)
-Fill up before driving to the summit, and don’t take any standard-range electric vehicle. There are no service stations along the way for fuel or recharging — and more than one EV has failed to drive the full way.