Complete Guide to Visiting Haleakala National Park
Highlights of Visiting Haleakala National Park
- Watch the Sunrise or Sunset: Witness the breathtaking sunrise or sunset from the summit of Haleakala. The panoramic views are truly awe-inspiring. You will need a reservation to visit for sunrise.
- Hike the Trails in the Crater: Explore the park’s hiking trails, such as the Sliding Sands Trail and immerse yourself in the diverse landscapes.
- Drive the Summit Road: Take a scenic drive along the Haleakala Highway to the summit, stopping at various viewpoints along the way to admire the stunning vistas.
- Bike Down the Volcano: For an exhilarating adventure, rent a bike and ride downhill from the summit of Haleakala, enjoying the incredible views as you descend. Book a self guided tour.
- Stargazing: Experience the magic of stargazing at the high elevation of Haleakala. The lack of light pollution makes it an ideal spot for observing the night sky.
- Visit the Visitor Centers: Explore the Haleakala Visitor Center and the Kipahulu Visitor Center to learn about the park’s geology, history, and native flora and fauna.
- Explore the Bamboo Forest: Take the Pipiwai Trail in the Kipahulu area to immerse yourself in the enchanting bamboo forest, leading to the magnificent Waimoku Falls. The take some time to hiking to the 7 Sacred Pools
- Spot Wildlife: Keep an eye out for the park’s unique wildlife, such as the nēnē (Hawaiian goose), Hawaiian monk seal, ‘io (Hawaiian hawk), and various bird species.
Things to Know About Visiting Haleakala National Park
General Overview of Haleakala NP
The most important thing to know about visiting Haleakala National Park is that the park itself is split into two regions. You can visit both, but you will need at least 2 days as the separate areas are far apart by road. Below you can see general information about the 2 parts of the park:
Summit District: This is the area at the top of Maui that includes the Haleakala Crater. You will find the visitor center, a scenic road and some incredible hiking trails that take you across the crater. This part of the park is located at a high elevation and most of the hiking trails are over 7,000 feet above sea level (all the way up to 10,000 feet).
Kīpahulu District: this part of the park is located in the southeast corner of Maui and can only be reached by driving long, windy coastal roads. The shortest way to get to the Kīpahulu District is down the Road to Hana. This part of the park has several short to moderate hiking trails including the incredible Pipiwai Trail (with the Bamboo Forest) and the 7 Sacred Pools.
Dogs are allowed in the parking lots and campgrounds, but not on the hiking trails and must be leashed at all times. Below are 5 things to know about visiting the park.
- Haleakala National Park is located on the island of Maui in Hawaii. It covers a total area of about 33,265 acres (13,468 hectares).
- The park is home to the dormant Haleakala Volcano, which last erupted between 1480 and 1600 AD. The volcanic landscape of the park features cinder cones, lava fields, and the expansive Haleakala Crater, a natural wonder that stretches over seven miles (11.3 kilometers) in length and more than two miles (3.2 kilometers) in width.
- Despite its rugged volcanic terrain, Haleakala National Park supports a remarkable array of plant and animal life. The park is known for its unique and endemic species, including the Haleakala silversword (a rare and iconic plant), the nēnē (Hawaiian goose), and several species of forest birds.
- Standing at approximately 10,023 feet (3,055 meters) above sea level, is a popular spot to witness spectacular sunrise and sunset views. Visitors often gather at the summit area to marvel at the stunning colors and breathtaking vistas.
- Haleakala National Park offers numerous recreational opportunities for visitors. Hiking is a popular activity, with trails ranging from easy walks to challenging treks. Other activities include camping, stargazing, biking, and exploring the park’s cultural and historical sites.
Best Time to Visit Haleakala National Park
Maui has great weather all year long so there really in no bad time to visit Haleakala National Park. You can see the weather throughout the year below and the number of visitors to the park. When you are planning your visit consider that the Summit District is located at a high elevation and the temperatures are typically 30 degrees colder than along the coast.
How to Get to Haleakala National Park
The best way for visiting Haleakala National Park is to rent a car. There is no shuttle service within the park and no bus to get to the park. If you aren’t renting a car on Maui, the best way to exploring Haleakala is by taking a guided tour: see Haleakala Guided Tours.
Kīpahulu District: To reach the Kīpahulu District of Haleakala National Park, located on the eastern side of Maui, you can take the famous Road to Hana (Highway 360). This scenic drive spans approximately 64 miles (103 kilometers) with numerous stops and attractions along the way. The Kīpahulu District entrance is around 12 miles (19 kilometers) past the town of Hāna. Be prepared for narrow and winding roads as you navigate through lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and stunning coastal views.
Summit District: The Summit District of Haleakala National Park is accessible from the town of Kula. From Kahului, take Highway 37, known as the Haleakala Highway, and continue onto Highway 378, also known as Crater Road. This winding road will take you up to the summit of Haleakala, standing at approximately 10,023 feet (3,055 meters) above sea level. The drive offers panoramic views of Maui’s landscapes, including expansive vistas, unique volcanic formations, and rare plant species. It’s important to note that the Summit District requires reservations for sunrise viewing due to its popularity, so plan accordingly.
How Much Time do you Need in Haleakala National Park
If you are planning to visit both parts of the park, you need two day to explore Haleakala National Park. Spend one day in the summit district and one day exploring the Kīpahulu District. If you only have one day in Haleakala, we recommend prioritizing the Summit district as this offer the most unique and interesting landscape.
Lodging Near Haleakala National Park
If you are interested in camping in Haleakala National Park, you can find a campground in both the Summit District and Kīpahulu District. You can also find backcountry campsites/cabins and can book reservations online. See more about camping at Haleakala.
Otherwise the best lodging options is anywhere on the island of Maui. We chose to stay in Wailea at the Residence inn by Marriott Maui. We booked this hotel with points and loved the location and the suites.