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Overview

Haleakala is like no place on earth. This hole in the mountain (puka in the mauka, in Hawaiian) known as House of the Sun is reached by the only road in the world that goes from sea level to 10,023-feet in 38 miles. Haleakala Crater Road corkscrews 33 times as you zigzag to the summit through 12 climate zones past Hawaii's endangered Nene geese, and rare Silversword plants that bloom once and die. At the top, due to altitude and view, you're breathless. Sorry, no oxygen available; faint hearts advised to stay at the beach. Visit Haleakala Visitor Center to get the low down on archaeology, geology, and vulcanology. Pitch a tent at Hosmer ...

Haleakala is like no place on earth. This hole in the mountain (puka in the mauka, in Hawaiian) known as House of the Sun is reached by the only road in the world that goes from sea level to 10,023-feet in 38 miles. Haleakala Crater Road corkscrews 33 times as you zigzag to the summit through 12 climate zones past Hawaii's endangered Nene geese, and rare Silversword plants that bloom once and die. At the top, due to altitude and view, you're breathless. Sorry, no oxygen available; faint hearts advised to stay at the beach. Visit Haleakala Visitor Center to get the low down on archaeology, geology, and vulcanology. Pitch a tent at Hosmer Grove on the edge of wilderness, or hike 3,230-feet down Sliding Sands trail to bunk in three primitive cabins. (Advance reservations required.) Inside Haleakala, where NASA trained astronauts for the Moon, it's often nasty and cold (lowest recorded temperature 14 degrees), spooky (avoid the Bottomless Pit) and lonely, except for weird birds that live in caves and bawl like babies. Pony Express trail rides take you down to the bottom of the crater for a picnic in this earthen bowl that has its own mountain range, rainforest and desert. Aficionados of sunrise arrive in pre-dawn darkness to experience the daily miracle but sunset seen from the summit can also be a peak experience.

Rick Carroll
About the Expert

Rick Carroll has written dozens of articles on Hawaii and the Pacific. His books include Great Outdoor Adventures of Hawaii, Madame Pele: True Encounters with Hawaii's Fire Goddess, and Travelers' Tales Hawaii.

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Rick Carroll for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: A shield volcano which takes up 75% of eastern Maui in Hawaii. Surrounding and including the crater is Haleakalā National Park, a 30,183-acre (122.15 km2) park, of which 24,719 acres (100.03 km2) are wilderness.
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Year-round at sunrise. Or sunset.