Results 1-10of 34 Reviews
May 10, 2009
From journal Return to Paradise (Part 1) - Maui
December 25, 2006
From journal Two Days in Maui
Port Angeles, Washington
May 26, 2003
The park brochure explains why it is so important to protect this area. There are at least 1000 native species of flowering plants in Hawaii. 90 percent of these are endemic, found only in Hawaii. Of these, 10 percent are extinct and 30 percent are threatened or endangered. As far as native bird species go, there are 140 kinds but 85 are now extinct and 32 are endangered. Introductions of non-native, invasive plants and animals are the number one threat to Hawaiian ecosystems.
The main area of the park is the Summit District, which includes Haleakala "crater." This area can be reached from Kahului by taking Highway 37 to Highway 377 to Highway 378. The drive will take about 2 hours from most resort locations.
Haleakala (House of the Sun) is a shield volcano that rose from the sea 900,000 years ago and continuously erupted until 400,000 years ago. The most recent eruption is thought to be in 1790. The original mountain was actually a few thousand feet higher, but has eroded to it’s current elevation. Haleakala crater is not really a crater at all, but rather a valley created by erosion. The valley is 2.5 miles wide and 7.5 miles wide, and it filled with cinder cones, volcanic rock, and beautiful silversword plants.
You can look into the valley from the Visitor Center near the summit. The Visitor Center(6am-3pm) is the place to get park information, purchase books, and find out about ranger-guided hikes and talks. Summit talks are given daily at 9:30am, 10:30am, and 11:30am. Cloud forest hikes are given Monday and Thursday at 9am (3 hours, 3 miles, leave from Hosmer Grove), and Cinder Desert Hikes are given Tuesday and Friday at 9am (2 hours, 2 miles, meet at Sliding Sands trailhead). These guided activities are FREE, and from my experience are always excellent. Also ask about the Junior Ranger program for the kids!
Or you can hike on your own. See my separate hiking entry for information. Free camping on a first-come, first-serve basis is available at Hosmer Grove. There are backcountry campsites available by permit, as well as backcountry cabins for rent. See the park’s website for more information. Other popular summit activities include biking down the mountain and watching sunrise on top of Haleakala. Sunrise-watchers should dress warm and bring a blanket!
The other main area of the park is the Kipahulu District on the far east side of Maui. This is the wetter side of the mountain, and features rainforest and waterfalls as the star attractions. However, it is a significant excursion to get there. See my journals on Hana, Maui for information on hikes, ranger programs, camping, and swimming at Kipahulu.
From journal West Maui Ocean Fun and Hiking Adventures
by The Maggie B
Hoboken, New Jersey
September 11, 2002
We rolled out of bed at 3am and groaned as we threw on jeans, t-shirts, fleece & sneakers. I proceeded to strip the blanket off our bed and stuffed it into our backpack. My new husband wasn't so sure that he hadn't just married a crazy woman but I was told that we would really be happy to have it. We were out the door at 3:30am. Definately leave early if you want a parking spot at the top.
It took about 2hrs of mostly nerve wracking driving up switchbacks to the top in complete darkness, no street lamps here. We were so glad that we couldn't see over the edge, but you could feel that it was a long way down. Finally we reached the top, parked our little car and staked out a spot on the wall facing east. It is colder than anything up there; we huddled together in the blanket and pitied the people who didn't read their tour guides and showed up in shorts and t-shirts. Everyone whispered when they talked as they watched the clouds below slowly turn from dusty grey to a soft blush. When the blush grew and the sun cracked through the cloud bank illuminating the sky in fire orange, there were the sharp intakes of breath and sighs of contentment along with camera clicks. It was extraordinarily beautiful to be above everything and to witness the break of day on the aptly named Temple of the Sun.
We made our way down to the car hoping that something of the moment was captured on our film. Now that we could see how steep and narrow the descent was, we were really glad that we didn't book the downhill bike tour. The idea of little sleep, cold temperature and not enought coffee seemed like a recipe for many scrapes and bruises. Maybe next time....
This was one of the best things we did on this trip. Don't miss the chance to do it. It is truely awesome!
From journal Maui The Valley Isle
November 12, 2005
From journal Marvelous Maui
San Antonio, Texas
June 3, 2006
It does get cold up there so you have to layer clothes on and please take the blankets and comforters off your beds at the resort to take up with you and wrap in. The staff at our resort were the people who told us to take our blankets, etc. Now, that's something different, huh? Also, take a flashlight with you so you can see the stairs to climb up to the top of the volcano. We did not have a flashlight and it can be dangerous because it is so pitch black.
This is definitely a MUST DO activity. I just wish I had thought to take along a thermos of kona coffee.
From journal December in Maui
January 2, 2006
We got up at about 2am to prepare for our drive up the mountain. We were told it would take longer than it did, but to be there by 5am.
The drive was very dark, and it rained at times as we passed though the rain forest belt. It was a bit scary at times, as you could not see where the drop off was, but you knew it was there. We had no problems, though, and just drove slowly. We arrived around 4am.
Take a blanket from your hotel and wear your warmest clothes. At an elevation of 10,023 feet, it is very, very cold. If you want to take pictures, you need to get your spot early, as it gets very crowded. There is a room you can go inside in order to view the scenery protected from the wind. However, I felt the picture would be better from outside.
After a very long wait, the sun finally started to peek over the horizon. It was beautiful and indescribable.
If you have a National Parks Pass, it applies to this park; otherwise, there is an entry fee. The gates are open but unattended in the early hours, and you pay in a box to the side. The gates are attended as you leave, so you could also pay then.
The drive down is slow due to all the bikers. Biking down the mountain is a popular sport. I would recommend someone do this once, because I would probably not do this a second time.
From journal Week 2 - Maui, HI
August 23, 2005
The company you pick will come pick you up at about 2am (this adventure is worth the early start), and they will take you to get a little breakfast at their headquarters, where they will set you up with a mountain bike and a helmet and give you the brief plan for the day. They will then pack you up take you on the hour van ride up to the top of this 10,000-foot volcano. At the top, you will be able to watch the sun rise over the blank of clouds that is now below you. This is completely worth it. In all my travels, it is the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. After the sun rises, you will get back in the vans and head down the mountain to about 7,500 feet. This is where the excitement begins. You get your 50-pound mountain bikes (the bikes are heavy to aid your decent). You then get in order from smallest to largest, with the smallest being in the front (the lighter you are, the slower you will go, so to keep everyone together, the smallest goes first). That means the first person in line controls how fast you will go. We were a little worried because we are not experienced mountain bikers and they told us we would be averaging 15 to 20mph down the hill. After a few minutes on the bike, though, we quickly felt comfortable. (Interestingly enough for us, the lightest person turned out to be a 12-year-old girl who was not afraid of speed, and instead of just coasting down the mountain, she was pedaling to go faster. We actually averaged 30mph because of her enthusiasm, which, as it turned out, was no big deal.)
As you coast down the mountain, you will pass amazing views of the countryside below. You will be able to stop, take pictures, and enjoy the air. It is a very pleasant ride down the mountain. The ride ends at the white sandy beaches on the coast to complete your 25-mile ride down the mountain. The experience was one-of-a-kind and a must-do on Maui.
Tip: At the top of Haleakala, at sunrise, it can be as cool as 30°F. Make sure you bring warm clothes, as you will want them as you wait for the sun to rise. You will be able to take them off as you go down the mountain and put them in the van that is following you down. (Don't wait until you get to Maui to buy warm clothes, because, as we found out, the local Wal-Mart doesn't really sell them.)
From journal Treasures of Maui
December 23, 2001
From journal Maui No Ka Oi
The Sliding Sands trailhead starts at the Visitor Center near the Haleakala summit (10,023 feet). Looking into the valley a couple thousand feet below, there are at least a dozen cinder cones in dazzling colors of red, orange, brown, and purple. A great shorter hike (5 miles round-trip) goes down the Sliding Sands trail to Ka Lu’u o ka ‘O’o, the only cinder cone that has a trail going up it.
Instead, I chose to hike Sliding Sands to Halemau’u Trail. This is a nice distance of 11 miles, with a easy-cruisin 2500 feet of elevation loss, and a moderately strenuous 1400 elevation gain. I liked that it is a one-way hike, since I didn’t want to have to retrace my steps. The only problem was arranging a pickup at the ending trailhead. I was able to do so, but another option is to park at the Halemau’u trailhead in the morning and then try to hitchike up to the Visitor Center to start the hike.
Back at the Sliding Sands trail, I found my surroundings to resemble a moonscape. The valley is 2.5 miles wide and 7.5 miles long, most of it without vegetation. The few plants that I did see were SO beautiful, maybe because of the stark contrast.
The silversword is an endangered plant found only at Haleakala. I felt honored to be so close to such a special plant. It is distantly related to the sunflower, but you wouldn’t know by looking at it. The silvery leaves shimmer in the sun. They are sharp and pointed. The silversword flowers only once in it’s lifetime, then dies. I also saw Naenae shrubs, and an interesting crossbreed of the Silversword and Naenae.
Not far after the junction with the Ka Lu’u o ka ‘O’o trail is the turnoff for Halemau’u trail. I found myself still in a moonscape, with cinder cones closer and all around me. But after a couple miles, I found a new surprise.
The valley floor first changed to a more broken up, upheaved earth area, with a short side trail called Silversword Loop. After Silversword Loop, I’m suddenly in a grassland. This is the area near Holua, a cabin and campsite in the northwest area of the crater. I found this grassy area to be so pleasant, with a light breeze to cool me off and views out Ko’olau Gap toward the ocean.
Not as pleasant (but not too bad), was the two miles of switchbacks that I had to go up to end the hike. The switchbacks are fairly gradual, so not too painful, and with fine views before the end of the hike.