Planning a trip to Maui and want to know whether or not Haleakalā National Park is worth it? Keep scrolling for my top tips for exploring this Maui national park.
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Out of all the Maui adventures, one of the top places to go in Maui is Haleakalā National Park. In fact, it’s one of the best national parks in Hawaii!
Seeing the sunrise in Haleakala is something people travel thousands of miles to experience. But, few people realize that Haleakalā at sunset is just as awe-inspiring.
In this post, you will get an overview of Haleakalā National Park and my top tips for making the most of your experience.
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Haleakalā National Park FAQs
The most famous sunrise on Maui is at Haleakala National Park. You’ll need to make a reservation up to 7 days before your trip in order to secure a parking spot at this Maui national park. The Haleakala Crater sunrise is definitely worth it!
There are no active volcanoes on Maui, so you won’t be able to see lava anywhere. However, Haleakala is a dormant volcano. The last time it erupted was sometime between 1480 and 1600. But, it’s always being monitored in case it might erupt in the future.
Haleakala is about 1 million years old! And it’s one of the largest mountains in the world, if you measure it from the base at the ocean’s floor to the summit.
Haleakalā AKA The House of The Sun
Haleakalā holds a legend to its name as with everything in this god-kissed island.
As the great tale goes, the demigod Maui (yep, the same guy from Disney’s Moana) lassoed the sun from its journey across the sky to watch it make a glorious descent as he stood on the volcano’s summit.
Last recorded as active in the 18th century, Haleakalā is the larger of two volcanoes that form the island of Maui.
Towering over the island at 10,023 feet above sea level and visible from just about any point, Haleakalā is a beauty to behold in every sense.
This “House of the Sun” or Haleakalā in the Hawaiian language is a stunning range of landscapes and skyscapes, a real force of nature in every sense.
Haleakalā National Park is just one of the two wilderness reserves and parks nestled in Hawaii and the only one on the island of Maui.
More than one million visitors each year come to explore the wide variety of flora and fauna seen nowhere else in the world.
They visit from all four corners of the world to learn the cultural significance that Haleakalā holds for the Hawaiian people and catch a glance of the world’s most gorgeous sunrise on a clear day.
Haleakalā National Park was established in 1916, 43 years before Hawaii became a state. That makes Haleakalā National Park more than a hundred years old.
Now is the time to see this Maui treasure. It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Getting Ready For Haleakala
The Haleakalā summit is the highest peak in Maui and unbelievably, has five different climate zones.
The focal point for visiting Haleakalā National Park is its otherworldly landscapes, feature rugged trails, cinder cones, and scenic lava rock fields.
While visiting Mt. Haleakalā at sunrise is a popular choice for many tourists, a perfectly planned sunset outing and base camping is an experience worthy for the memory bank.
In a nutshell, Haleakala National Park is an all-out adventure, packed only with nature’s best features to offer.
Fresh air, dramatic scenery, and the Maui culture. It is truly one of a kind and definitely not to be missed.
Are you ready for an experience that many often find life-changing? Here are three tips to make that Haleakala truly the best experience ever!
The Top 3 Tips For The Ultimate Haleakala Experience
How you want to experience this enchanting place depends on the adventure that best suits your plans.
There are options few and far between, but in the end, every part of the Haleakala National Park experience will not fade in memory.
Fill yourself with wonder and indulge in the trip of a lifetime with these three tips!
Into the Wild We Go
Haleakala National Park is federally designated as a wilderness reserve and provides 80% of its landscape and natural terrain as a home to several endemic species of flora and fauna.
Some are only found in Hawaii and not found anywhere else in the world.
Ever seen a truly remarkable plant that can take up to 50 years to bloom once and then dies? Embrace the chance to check out the Ahinahina (also known as the Hawaii Silversword.)
Uniquely suited to its extreme environment and found to grow only in Maui’s tallest summit and nowhere else on earth, the Silversword is a remarkably endemic species found only in Haleakala.
The Haleakala National Park is home for more endangered species than any other national park in the United States and the perfect place to spot the Nene, a Hawaiian goose.
The Nene once teetered on the edge of extinction. With just 30 birds left in the wild back in 1967, caused by hunting and the threat of natural predators.
The Hawaiian Goose now has a record number today at over 3,000 statewide due to Endangered Species Act protections.
See how resilient the national state bird, the Hawaiian Goose is up close and personal and perhaps volunteer to help protect the endangered species found on Haleakala while you’re at it.
Tip Number 1: Take in the scenery & leave everything as is.
Learn more about these endemic species, their unique characteristics, and have fun while doing so. Just remember, leave no trace when visiting the park to ensure that these species continue to thrive in their natural environments.
Also, it is always essential to stay on marked trails, never feed wildlife, and to treat the residents with the utmost respect.
With so much to see, dare not want to miss out on everything when in the presence of the majestic wilderness.
That’s why you can choose from two campsites found in Haleakala National Park. There’s Holua, located 3.7 miles down the Halemauu Trail, and Paliku, located about 9.3 miles along Sliding Sands Trail or 10.4 miles on Halemauu Trail.
Experienced hikers and newbies alike enjoy the camp out wilderness experience spending the night outdoors either in a tent in one of the two primitive wilderness campsites.
Haleakala is in itself a thrill to behold, but if it is something with a bit of pumping high adrenaline, why not head down Haleakala on a bike?
Grab a bike rental or book a Haleakala bike tour if you think you have what it takes to descend the 21 switchbacks on the western slopes of the mountain.
Come across a panorama of killer vistas that include Maui’s central valley and the glorious West Maui Mountains.
Tip Number 2: Pack properly!
The House of the Sun stands over 10,000 feet at the summit with no trees or shade. Bring the proper protection gear and do not risk getting a terrible sunburn.
Sun protection is a MUST, so pack plenty of reef-safe sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun’s intense rays.
Gearing up with good hiking boots are essential if you plan on hiking in Haleakala. Remember to bring along first aid supplies and the proper trekking stuff for more intense excursions. Find the best prices here.
National parks are NOT theme parks. Injuries abound when you fail to treat nature with respect.
Skywatching on the summit is the perfect activity for every visitor. Encompassing enthralling views of sunrise, sunset, stargazing, and everything in between, this activity is undoubtedly an experience that opens you up to the wonders of Maui.
Marvel at the incredible skyline atop Haleakala. Trailing up the way to the summit, veer away from the traffic, stop and behold the sights with a visual horizon that stretches 115 miles out the open sea.
When heading to the summit at night, know that sky conditions are nothing short of phenomenal.
Check out the constellations by mapping out the perfect Haleakala stargazing trip! Grab yourself a map to the stars at the Haleakala Visitor Center, or the Haleakala National Park Headquarters Visitor Center.
Stargazing at Haleakala Crater is one of the best things to do on Maui at night.
Tip Number 3: Wear Warm Clothes
Bundle up with warm clothes because the weather in Haleakala will be chillier than you expect.
Maui’s classic tropical climate can confuse you and make it easy to forget that the temperature changes when you’re 10,000 feet above sea level!
On average, temperatures at the Haleakala summit are about 20 degrees colder than at sea level and often go below freezing.
While the best Maui sunrises happen on crisp, clear days, the weather at the summit can be unpredictable and is frequently windy and wet.
Ensure you have a warm jacket and swap those flip-flops for a pair of tennis shoes or boots!
How to Make Haleakala Sunrise Reservations
If watching the sunrise in Maui is on your must-do list, please know that you’ll need to reserve Haleakala sunrise tickets ahead of time.
It’s basically making sure that you have a parking spot so you don’t get turned away at the gate. These tickets are $1 per vehicle.
To make Haleakala reservations, visit this page up to 7 days before your trip. They tend to sell out quickly, so mark your calendar.
If you don’t get a ticket, you will not be able to visit Haleakala for the sunrise. The earliest they will let you in is 7 a.m. (after sunrise.) There are no tickets at the gate.
There you have it, the three ultimate tips to get you planning a memorable trip to Maui and visit the House of the Sun, Haleakala. Take your time, jot it down, and keep all three tips ready when needed.
Let’s cap this list off with some much-needed reminders from the National Parks Service when visiting the Haleakala National Park.
If you are planning to visit the summit area for sunrise, please keep in mind the following:
- Temperatures immediately before dawn and immediately after dusk are regularly below freezing.
- Weather is unpredictable but is often windy and wet.
- There are NO weather predictions available for sunrise.
- There is no food, clothing, or gas for sale in the park.
- The road up and down the mountain does not have streetlights or guard rails.
- It takes approximately 1.5 hours to drive between Kahului and the summit.
- Parking is restricted to designated lots only.
- Parking lots will be closed when full – especially at sunrise.
Best Haleakala National Park Tours
While you can totally visit Haleakala National Park on your own, some families prefer to take a tour. And there are lots of Haleakala tours to choose from!
If you want to see the sunrise from Haleakala without driving yourself, this is one of the best Haleakala sunrise tours available. It’s a 7-8 hour tour with round-trip hotel pick-up, breakfast, and entrance fees. Check out the latest prices and more details.
This Haleakala bike tour starts at 6,500 ft outside the park entrance and you’ll do a Haleakala downhill bike ride all the way to the adorable North Shore town of Haiku. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Skip the crowds and enjoy the best sunset on Maui from the top of Haleakala. This is one of the best Haleakala sunset tours and it comes with a 3-course meal. Check out the latest prices and more details.
If you’d like to drive up to Haleakala at sunset, definitely download this Shaka Guide. It’s an audio tour of Haleakala with turn-by-turn directions to the best places to see the stars. Check out the latest prices and more details.