Haleakala National Park

Description

Rising 10,023 feet above sea level, Maui's active, but not currently erupting, Haleakala volcano forms the eastern section of the Hawaiian island. Due to the elevation changes, Haleakala's ecosystems range from a subtropical climate at sea level, to lush rain forest covering the steep slopes, to the moonscape alpine desert of the "crater." The 19-square-mile bowl isn't actually a volcanic crater. After years of erosion, two valleys at Haleakala's summit eventually merged, forming the 3,000-foot deep crater-like depression. Legend has named this summit "The House of the Sun," and visitors trek to the top for Maui's splendid sunrises and sunsets.On the eastern slope of Haleakala, rains and winds have carved a valley now home to a dense tropical rain forest. Kipahulu Valley, although part of Haleakala National Park, is closed to visitors in order to preserve the habitat of several species unique to the Hawaiian Islands, including species of endangered birds and plants. Designated a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve, Haleakala maintains a balance between its human visitors and natural residents.What to see and do: The Kipahulu Valley Biological Preserve divides Haleakala National Park into two separate outings. A visit to thesummit can be extended from a day trip into a two or three day outing, while the Pools of Oheo at the base of Kipahulu Valley can be seen in a day. If you'd like to see the "crater," begin your drive up the winding, switchback filled road on the west side of Haleakala. Your first turnoff would be Hosmer Grove. Stop in here to walk the short self-guided nature trail, which introduces you to some of the unique plants and birds of Maui along your drive. You'll also find a campground here and a picnic site beneath shady trees. Further along the drive at the Park Headquarters Visitor Center (7000 feet above sea level) you can look at silversword (a Hawaiian native plant) and perhaps see a nene (the wild Hawaiian goose). The visitor center is open from 8 AM to 4 PM. If you plan on camping in Haleakala's wilderness, pick up your first-come, first-served permits here. You'll also be able to check the daily program of talks and ranger-led hikes.As you ascend Haleakala, be sure to note the change in vegetation. After catching the marvelous views from the Leleiwi and Kalahaku overlooks, your last stop is the Haleakala Visitor Center (9074 feet above sea level). It opens at 6:30 AM to accommodate early birds set on seeing the sun's first rays hit Maui. Exhibits acquaint you with the area's unique geology, and rangers can advise you on hiking plans. From the Haleakala Visitor Center, you'll notice streaks of red, yellow, gray and black in the cinder, which calls attention to the mountain's volcanic origins. You can't miss the many cinder cones rising up to 600 feet from the crater floor. Because the two parts ofHaleakala National Parkaren't connected, you'll have to make a lengthy drive to the Kipahulu section rather than hike down from the Haleakala crater.After you've experienced the dry, barren slopes of the crater, spending the next day in the lush Pools of Oheo will be quite a change. Burbling waters run down the mountainside, filling small pools between waterfalls. The highlight of your hike may be the spectacular Waimoku Falls. Water tumbles 400 feet, leaving clouds of mist behind among the trees. You reach the falls via a streamside trail leading up the hill and through a bamboo forest. Along the way, feel free to splash in the cool waters. Should streams be swollen, rangers advise against swimming due to strong, unpredictable currents. Keep an eye out for the taro patches, which still grow, though long since out of use. You may also notice the remains of stone-walled gardens and temple sites. These are all reminders of Maui's first inhabitants and their lives before the arrival of merchants and whalers.Haleakala National Park offers two drive-up campgrounds, Hosmer Grove and Kipahulu.

Address

Hwy 378 (milemarker 11)
Makawao, HI 96768

Lat/Long

20.66385500, -156.04325900
Visit Website
(808) 572-4400

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