Haleakala National Park gets its own geographic location because it is smack in the middle of Maui…literally. This is a must-see National Park. It’s so beautiful and unlike any other park/place in Maui (or elsewhere). The topography resembles more of the moon or another planet than a tropical island. The summit sits at 10,023 feet above sea level. Driving up here is a winding road. I have bad motion sickness so I stopped several times before getting to the top. The “Crater” as it’s referred to, is more of a desert valley (and not an actual crater) that houses animals and plants only found in this spot and not anywhere else on earth.
Getting to Haleakala National Park
Driving from Kahului, to reach the summit at 10,023 feet, you only have to go 38 miles. However, it is a winding road so you will most likely be driving very, very slowly. I stopped often to manage my motion sickness and to get a breath of fresh air. Remember, as you ascend, the air thins out and pressure increases on the lungs. If you have breathing problems, take note, as you may be gasping for oxygen.
In addition, the air gets colder so bring a sweater or jacket. It is recommended to bring and drink water here. If you have scuba-dived within the last 24 hours, it’s recommended that you delay your trip to Haleakala National Park.
Visiting the Park
Once parked, check out the Visitor’s Center for more information on the Park and Crater. Definitely read what’s shown there as it’s such interesting information about the geography, topography, animal and plant life. If you are camping or hiking, you have to check in here. There are many hiking routes at Haleakala with some overnight and some with reservation required.
Be sure to check out the silversword plant which is native to Haleakala National Park and only found here.
From the Visitor Center (elevation 9,740 feet), you can take a short trail walk out to White Hill. From there, you will have an amazing view of the valley/crater.
The highest point on Haleakala is Puu Ulaula Overlook (elevation 10,023 feet). You can view the valley with 360 degree perspective from a glass enclosed building.
Consider a sunrise viewing of this special place. Reservations are required with the Recreation.gov services.
East entrance@Oheo Gulch
Haleakala National Park can also be accessed from the east only via the Road to Hana. It’s a section of the park called Oheo Gulch in Kipahulu town. You can use your original entrance pass here so keep your ticket. However, I didn’t access this part of the Park so I can’t advise either way on what it’s like, what you see or what you can do. But just know it’s an alternate entrance and area to explore. This is at mile marker 42 on the Hana Highway.