Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park is located on the island of Maui, and contains the remains of the volcano Haleakala, which tops out at an elevation of 10,023 feet. From the summit, you can look down into the crater and see across to some of the other islands of Hawai'i.

Most people drive up to the summit to see the sun rise, and this is what we did. This involved getting up around 2:30am and driving about 1.5 hours to get a parking place near the summit. This is a very popular thing to do, so get here early and bring very warm clothes, because the weather can get windy and very nasty at times.

The summit, called Pu'u'ula'ula, is at 10,023 feet. Nearby is the Haleakala Observatories which are basically off limits to visitors. The observatories are called Science City, and astronomers bounce laser beams off of retro-reflectors left on the moon. By timing the reflections, they an measure the speed of continental drift.

The road up to the summit is nicely paved, but very winding with many switchbacks. Along the last two switchbacks are overlooks, called Kalahaku and Leleiwi, which give magnificent views of the crater area.

There are many trails that visitors can hike - the most popular being the Sliding Sands trail which descends 2,400 feet to the crater floor. There is also camping available. Some companies will take you down into the crater on horseback.

There is wildlife and flora near the summit. One plant, called the Silversword ('ahinahina), is unique to Hawai'i and have evolved to live in this difficult environment. I was not able to spot any of these for a picture - too bad.

Another creature I saw but was not able to get a picture is the Nene - a type of goose. These birds are friendly and laid back, and if you are not careful you might run them over with your car.

From the summit, the sunrise is spectacular - especially when there are low lying clouds. You can actually see the sun creep up from the horizon, bit by bit. Once the sun if fully risen, you can view the surrounding islands of Hawai'i (the Big Island), Kaho'olawe, Molokini, Lana'i and Moloka'i.

Another fun thing visitors do is bike down from the summit. Companies drive you and a trailer of bikes to the summit to see the sunrise, then you bike down as a group all the way to the sea.

The entrance sign for the park Looking east from the summit before sunrise Clouds hang below the 10,000 foot level
The entrance sign for the park Looking east from the summit before sunrise Clouds hang below the 10,000 foot level
The island of Hawai'i on the horizon The elevation sign near the summit Visitors in the glow of sunrise
The island of Hawai'i on the horizon The elevation sign near the summit Visitors in the glow of sunrise
The sun starts to peek above the horizon A little bit more of the sun shows The sun is mostly risen at this point
The sun starts to peek above the horizon A little bit more of the sun shows The sun is mostly risen at this point
The observation lookout at the summit Science City from the summit The observation lookout from the Visitors Center
The observation lookout at the summit Science City from the summit The observation lookout from the Visitors Center
Looking east into the crater area The geo marker at the summit area Looking towards Sliding Sands trail
Looking east into the crater area The geo marker at the summit area Looking towards Sliding Sands trail
Three craters from the Kalahaku Overlook Crater Pu'u o Maui Craters Kama'oli'i and Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o
Three craters from the Kalahaku Overlook Crater Pu'u o Maui Craters Kama'oli'i and Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o
The isthmus and West Maui area The observatories at Science City The Visitors Center with bike trailers
The isthmus and West Maui area The observatories at Science City The Visitors Center with bike trailers