As the top attraction on Maui, the Haleakalā National Park features 30,000 acres of land from the moon-like crater of the Haleakalā volcano to the tropical foot paths along the line rugged coastline of south Maui. Divided into two districts, Haleakalā National Park offers lots of space and opportunity to explore this special and scared land. Many travelers yearn to summit the moon-like volcano to see the sunrise (or sunset). Equally as scenic, the Kīpahulu District offers a lush rainforest with waterfalls and scared pools, rich in Hawaiian history. As Maui’s most popular site, planning is important so here are the top things to do at Haleakalā National Park.
Haleakalā National Park at a Glance
|Year Established: 1961|
|Size: 30,000 acres|
|Top Features: Haleakalā Volcano, Kīpahulu|
Top Things to do at Haleakalā National Park
Stop by the Visitor Center
Take a Scenic Drive
Visit the Summit for Sunrise or Sunset
Take a Hike
Attend a Ranger Program
Have a Picnic
Visit the Kīpahulu District
See the Waterfalls in the Rainforest
Earn a Junior Ranger Badge
Visitors Centers at Haleakalā National Park
A must for any national park visit, Haleakalā National Park features three visitor centers. Two are located in the summit district and one is located is south Maui in the Kīpahulu District though only two are open at the time.
Headquarters Visitor Center
Visitor centers hand out maps and Junior Ranger booklets and feature interpretive areas to learn more about the culture and history of the area. Rangers are on hand for information during its operating hours.
Located about one mile from the summit district sign at Mile Marker 11 on Crater Road. Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visitor centers feature 24-room restroom
Haleakalā Visitor Center
his is the visitor center closest to the summit of Haleakalā and overlooking the volcanic valley. Visitors can ask questions, get maps and walk through its interpretive area.
Located about 10 miles from pass the Headquarters Visitor Center, it features 24-room restrooms. Open daily from sunrise to 4 p.m.
Kīpahulu District Visitor Center
Kīpahulu District Visitor Center offers display on the cultural and natural history of Hawaii and is in South Maui,
Located at Mile Marker 42 Hana Highway. Open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors will find 24-hour restrooms.
Top Things to do in the Summit District
The signature experience for most first-time visitors is traveling to the summit district, located 10,000 feet above sea level. The dormant crater is 7 miles across and created from an eruption about 1 million years ago. It is popular place to view the sunrise or enjoy the inky night sky.
Though planning is required for summiting. The weather along the coastline stays moderately temperate year-round though it can snow on the top of Haleakalā. Visitors needs to pack and wear layers no matter the time of the day.
Scenic Drive in the Summit District
The Haleakala Highway is the road that reaches the summit and it is a scenic drive. It orginates outside of the park in the town of Kahului and runs for 37 miles connecting the ocean to the summit.
The portion inside of the park is 10.6 miles long and was completed in 1935. It offers several overlooks, like Kalahaku Overlook. It reaches to summit with views of the Haleakala Crater along with sunrise views at Red Hill and White Hill.
Drivers need to remember the drive from the summit entrance to the actual summit can take at least 30 minutes. All visitors driving in the dark at Haleakalā should use caution and stay observant for wildlife wandering close to the road.
Sunrise, Sunset and Stargazing on the Summit
For the special sunrise ritual, a NPS reservation is required. Reservations are released 60 days in advance though a some are held until two day before. The reservation is required to enter the park from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. and date specific. For more information, consult the NPS website.
Permits are not required for the sunset though parking lots will close then its spaces are filled. Visitors should have a back-up location in mind for sunset.
Stargazing is also a top activity in the Summit District.
Top Hiking Trails in the Summit District
Pā Ka’oao Trail—A .4-mile trail with a 100 foot elevation change
Keonehe’ehe’e Trail—A .5-mile trail to the first overlook with a 50-foot overlook.
Leleiwi Overlook–A .3-mile walk to an overlook with a 100-foot elevation change.
Halemau‘u Trail–A 2.2-miles roundtrip trail with a 400-foot elevation gain.
Hosmer Grove–A .5-mile loop
Ranger Talks at Haleakala
The Haleakalā National Park hosts free ranger talks for visitors. The topic range from day-to-day, though geology and guided hikes are popular ranger talks. The park offers a sunrise orientation program daily at 7 a.m.
Picning at Hosmer Grove
There is a covered picnic table at Hosmer Grove. It is located near the Hosmer Grove Campground and offers a picnic table along with water, trash and vault toilets in the area.
Camping in the Summit District
Hosmer Grove Campground
- Reservations Required
- 6 tent sites, no RVS
- Potable Water and Vault Toilets
- No Showers
- Limited to 3 night stay in 30 days
Wilderness Cabins at Haleakala National Park
There are three wilderness cabins in the Summit District. Each require a hike and offers bunk beds, a wood burning stove and a propane stove. A pit toilet is located nearby though there is no potable water available.
They are available for reservations via Recreation.gov. Each require a hike ranging from 3.7 miles to 9.3 miles.
While the summit district is about its volcano, the Kīpahulu District is about the waterfalls and the lush foliage along the coast. Located along the Road to Hana on the southern tip of Maui, The main parking lot is located at the visitor center at Mile Marker 42, about 10 miles pass the town of Hana on Highway 360. Plan for rain as this is the rainy side of the island
Top Things to do at the Kīpahulu District
- Stop by the Visitor Center
- Take a Hike
- See the Waterfall
- Walk through the Bamboo Forest
The Kīpahulu District Visitor Center is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It offers cultural and natural history exhibits and features 24-hour restrooms. It is located at Mile Marker 42 Hana Highway.
Hiking in the Kīpahulu District
A couple of hikes take hikers past one of the top sites in the Kīpahulu District.
Kūloa Point Trail—A .5-mile trail with an 80-foot elevation change that passes ‘Ohe’o Gulch, or the Seven Sacred Pools. It is fed by a small waterfall flowing down the gulch.
Pipiwai Trail—A 4-mile roundtrip trail with an 800-foot elevation change and it is one of Maui’s most popular hiking trails.
The top sites along the Pipiwai Trail are the Makahiku Overlook, a half-a-mile in and offers a glimpse of the Makahiku Waterfall. The bamboo forest is one mile in. The 400-foo Waimoku Falls is two miles in.
Plan for rain as this is the rainy side of the island and arrive earlier in the day to avoid the crowds.
- Reservations Required
- 20 tent sites, no RVS
- No Water or Showers, Vault Toilets only
- Limited to 3 night stay in 30 days
Junior Ranger Program
The Junior Ranger Program is the go-to program for families to learn more about a National Park Service site. It’s free and takes about two hours to complete. My kids love the badges that the Rangers present them after completing their booklet.
Kids can pick up a booklet at the Visitor Center. Remember, anyone can earn a Junior Ranger badge.
Animals of Haleakala National Park
As the most remote island chain in the world, it is home to some unique animals.
- Hawaiian Nēnē
- Hawaiian ‘Ua’a
Details for Visiting Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park is open 24-hours a day and 365 days a year. It is remote so data coverage is limited.
The Haleakala National Park pass is required for both districts, regardless of the time of day. A vehicle pass is $30 for three days and includes all its occupants. For pedestrians, there is a $15 NPS pass, it is good for three days as well. Visitors can use an America the Beautiful pass as well.