According to Hawaiian folklore, the summit
of Haleakala, the giant shield volcano that forms most of the
island of Maui, was once home to the grandmother of the demigod
Maui who captured the sun and forced it to slow its journey
across the sky in order to lengthen the day and allow human
beings to grow crops, and fish, and live. Nowadays, Haleakala
is one of the places most frequently visited by both visitors
Haleakala National Park includes the summit caldera, Kipahulu
Valley, on the southeast slope, and the Kipahulu area, which
extends all the way to the shoreline. Haleakala rises from
sea level to more than 10,000 feet, and with the altitude,
changes from subtropical rainforest at sea level to subalpine
desert in the crater.
Haleakala National Park has more than 30 miles of hiking trails
varying from challenging half-day hikes to an 11.2-mile trek
across almost the whole crater area. The Sliding Sands Trail
and the Halemau‘u Trail explore the crater area, and the
Kaupo Trail descends from the crater to the coast offering a
good crosssection of the mountain’s different ecological
zones. All hiking trails in the crater area are also accessible
by horse, and horseback tours can be arranged.
In addition, Haleakala National Park has two drive-in campgrounds,
two wilderness campgrounds, and three wilderness cabins. The
drive-in campgrounds are located at Hosmer Grove near park
headquarters and on the coast in Kipahulu, about 10 miles (40
minutes in a
car) south of Hana. The wilderness campgrounds are located
in the crater, in Paliku, along the Kaupo Trail, and in Holua,
the Halemau‘u Trail. The tree wilderness cabins are in
Paliku, Holua, and along the Sliding Sands Trail in Kapalaoa.
Wilderness campgrounds are free, but permits are required.
A fee and reservations are required for the wilderness cabins,
and reservations can only be made by participating in a monthly
For more information and for a map, contact Haleakala National
Park 808-572-4400 or www.nps.gov/hale.
Seeing the sun set or rise above the clouds
at the 10,000-foot summit is popular with visitors and locals
alike. Arrive at
least a half an hour before sunset or sunrise to see the colors
change, and remember to dress warmly. The temperature near
the top tends to vary between about 40 F and 60 F. Good sunset
locations are the Halemau‘u Trail and the summit, and
good sunrise locations are Leleiwi or Kalahaku Overlooks, the
summit, and Haleakala Visitor Center.
Photo by Eija Rissanen
The Haleakala Crater area can be explored by hiking, camping,
and horseback riding. The size of the crater area is about
seven miles across, two miles wide, and nearly 2,600 feet deep.
Courtesy of Pony Express
The whole crater area glows in all shades of red, yellow, gray,
and black. These streaks of colors trace the courses of recent
and ancient lave, ash, and cinder flows. The summit rises at
Photos by Eija Rissanen