Haleakala National Park

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by travellingdave on December 25, 2006

A wonderful, pristine drive up scenic Haleakala volcano treats the visitor to some awesome scenery. This dormant volcano forms more than 75% of the island of Maui, looming over 10,000 feet above sea level. The name Haleakala means "house of the sun," and you’ll understand why as you ascend the steep mountain in your rental car or hired tour bus.

You will begin the driving thinking not much of it, winding through some small towns with some tropical vegetation. It is only when the vegetation disappears and you are climbing high above the heavens, the clouds far beneath you, that you’ll realize this is one of the most scenic places on earth. Considered one of the USA's best National Parks, the ride to the volcano's crater at its summit is sure to please.

Mile after mile visitors are provided the opportunity to pull over and take in views from above the clouds. Some views will surely knock your socks off. My favorite overview, located just past the entrance gate, features a small path that you can descend a bit of the mountain on. With the clouds totally beneath you, it seems as though you are hovering over a giant pillow, and the view is mesmerizing.

The entrance fee is $10 and the information at the visitor center is totally free and included in the price. I encourage you to stop in and chat with the knowledgeable guides, who although make the trek up the volcano every day, are far from jaded by it. They exude passion as they talk about this geological marvel. Some small souvenirs are available here. The visitor center houses some neat exhibits highlighting the history and geology of the volcano, which are far from boring – take the time to read them.

There are trails available for hikers to hike to the crater center, and many tours run from Lahaina and major Maui hotels. The most popular tour is the sunrise tour, where you join a crowd of people at 3:30am and travel up the volcano to witness a stunning sunrise. You can do this by car also, if you can handle driving that early.

There is a functioning astronomical complex at the summit of Haleakala, complete with massive telescopes and satellite dishes. Feel free to walk up the somewhat arduous climb to the summit and get a 360 degree overview of the entire volcano. The views are excellent from this high up. Luckily, there is an enclosed shelter for those who can’t handle the strong winds.

It can get very cold and windy up here, so dress in layers. The temperatures hover between 5 and 16 degrees Celsius (40 and 60 Fahrenheit), so be prepared to be chilled a bit. It can be a welcome respite on those very hot Maui summer days.

Parking is included free of charge in the park, and water is available for purchase at the visitor center. There are no restaurants.

Visit Haleakala National Park online at: www.nps.gov/hale
Haleakalā National Park
Po Box 369
Makawao, Hawaii, 96768
(808) 572-4400


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