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Haleakalā National Park
In the remote reaches of the island of Maui in the heart of the Pacific Ocean you will find this tropical paradise. Here you can journey to the house of the sun and discover ancient volcanoes steeped in legend, rugged mountains, dense rainforests, hidden beaches, and the last wild home to spectacular wildlife. This is Haleakalā National Park.
The Haleakalā Film
HALEAKALA 8K is the culmination of several weeks and multiple trips to the remote outer reaches of the island of Maui in the Central Pacific. Journey with us to the house of the sun and discover ancient volcanoes steeped in legend, rugged mountains, dense rainforests, hidden beaches, underwater worlds, and the last wild home to spectacular wildlife. This is Haleakalā. Filmed primarily in 8K.
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What to see in haleakalā national park
Haleakalā National Park is perhaps one of the most unique national parks in the United States. Far from the mountains, deserts, plains, and forests of the continental US parks, here you’ll find a lush tropical rainforest and a vibrant volcanic landscape tucked in a remote corner of the vast Pacific Ocean.
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When to Visit Haleakalā National Park
Haleakalā National Park Weather
The best time of year to visit Haleakalā National Park is during the winter when the park sees few tourists and experience mild and pleasant weather. Winter is still a popular time to visit Hawaii as it provides a welcome respite from the cold weather much of the mainland US is experiencing, but Summer and Spring are still the most popular months and avoiding those can be a good way to go. The summit area of the park is marked by rapidly changing unpredictable weather and lows of below freezing. The Kīpahulu area of the park (near sea level) is warm and wet for much of the year with lows typically in the low 70’s.
Choosing the best time to visit haleakalā national park
Haleakalā NATIONAL PARK BY SEASON
What is the best season to visit Haleakalā National Park?
Knowing when to visit Haleakalā National Park will help you make the most of your trip to this one-of-a-kind tropical paradise. Certain times of year will offer the best opportunities to get the most out of your visit. Winter is the best time to visit. Scroll below to see what each season has to offer.[elementor-template id=”6446″]
Things to do in Haleakalā National Park
There are lots of areas to explore and activities to do in Haleakalā National Park no matter what time of year you visit. We’ve listed a few of our favorite activities below
Where Water Falls
See The Sacred Pools.
photo: pools of ‘ohe’o | haleakalā national park
Commonly referred to as the Seven Sacred Pools, this series of pools fed by cascading waterfalls is a widely popular tourist attraction going back decades. Located in the beautiful Oheo Gulch, it is recommended to view the pools from a safe vantage point rather than trying to physically access them. The Oheo Gulch area as well as the Kīpahulu area as a whole are not recommended for swimming as violent flash floods or rock falls are frequent and can occur at any time and most areas are extremely difficult to access both for visitors and emergency responders.
Drive the Famous Road to Hāna
photo: road to hāna | haleakalā national park
This world famous road offers world-class views. Seriously, this is one of the most scenic (and precarious) roads on the planet. With little room for error along its twists, turns, rock slides and floods, the Road to Hāna will leave you breathless. Yes we mean that both because of the wild ride and the stunning views it has to offer. Wildlife, vivid rainforests, lush meadows, sweeping views of the Pacific, and did we mention lots of waterfalls? Buckle up and get ready for the ride of your life!
Fall for Waimoku Falls
photo: waimoku falls | haleakalā national park
This picturesque waterfall is a must-see for anyone traveling to this remote national park, and getting there is half the fun. The 1.8 mile long Pīpīwai Trail takes hikers through a lush tropical environment. Along the trail you’ll find dense bamboo forests, otherworldly banyan trees, and numerous streams and pools before finally reaching this towering waterfall. At over 400 feet, it is the tallest waterfall on the island of Maui.
House of The Sun
Take in a Sunset from the Summit of Haleakalā
photo: haleakalā | haleakalā national park
The summit of haleakalā is home to one of the best places in the entire national park system to watch the sun set or rise. Situated high above the clouds with an unparalleled view of the surrounding island and the ocean, a sunset on a good day from here is worth the trip alone. While the summit of Haleakalā is typically known for its spectacular sunrises, you’ll need an advance reservation to make your way up before the sun and share the view with hordes of other visitors. We recommend the sunset, where no reservation is required and you can enjoy the same majestic view with a fraction of the crowds.
Visit the Bamboo Forest
photo: bamboo forest | haleakalā national park
A vast, dense forest of bamboo in the midst of a tropical paradise, sound interesting? Wait until you see it. About 1 mile in the Pīpīwai Trail gives way to a boardwalk that cuts through the heart of a vast bamboo forest, the likes of which you have never seen. The bamboo reaches soaring heights and hearing the rustle of the chutes in the wind is quite a treat.[elementor-template id=”6472″]
Camping in Haleakalā
Camping in Haleakalā National Park
Haleakalā National Park has two campgrounds, each offering a very different type of camping experience.
Hosmer Grove Campground is within the cloud belt of Haleakala at nearly 7,000 feet elevation. Rain and cold temperatures are frequent with overnight lows sometimes reaching below freezing. Campsites are close together in an open grass field near the Hosmer Grove forest. The campground has picnic tables, barbecue grills, drinking water, and pit toilets. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis
Kīpahulu Campground is located right on the ocean next to the Kīpahulu Visitor Center and a short walk from the ʻOheʻo Gulch area. The ocean breeze helps to keep the pesky bugs away somewhat and the sound of the crashing waves makes for a fantastic spot to pitch a tent and be lulled to sleep. The campground has picnic tables, grills, and pit toilets. Drinking water is available at the nearby Kīpahulu Visitor Center. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Wilderness Cabins are available to reserve in the Haleakalā Crater and require a long hike to reach. There are three wilderness cabins available to visitors hiking in the crater, one requiring a 3.7 mile hike, another requiring a 5.5 mile hike, and the last requiring a 9.3 mile hike. For more information on the wilderness cabins visit the park website. Reservations are required.
Wilderness Campsites within the park’s interior provide a primitive way to camp and explore the backcountry. There are two wilderness campsites available to the public, both requiring permits to use. For more information on wilderness camping in Haleakalā National Park visit the park website.[elementor-template id=”6475″]
Haleakalā Hotels, Motels, & Lodges
Haleakalā National Park is a remote and spread out park covering a large and mostly undeveloped swath of the island of Maui. There are two towns with a very small selection of lodging options located close to the park. Hāna provides some hotel and bed & breakfast options for the Kīpahulu area of the park while Kula provides a small selection of inns and bed & breakfasts for the summit area. We’ve listed the most popular ones below. For tent options see our camping section above.
Lodging options around the park include:
Hana Maui Resort (Hāna)
Hana Kai Maui Resort (Hāna)
Kula Lodge (Kula)
G & Z Upcountry Bed & Breakfast (Kula)
Bamboo Inn on Hāna Bay (Hāna)
Haleakala National Park Photos
Peruse all of the best Haleakala National Park photos from our trip.
Haleakalā Restaurants & stores
Where to eat in Haleakalā National Park
Pickings can be slim for food once near Haleakala so you’ll want to plan ahead of time and bring plenty of snacks. That being said, there are a few great spots to grab a bite near the park. We’ve linked the best ones below:
Braddah Huts BBQ Grill (Hāna)
Hana Farms (Hāna)
Huli Huli Chicken(Hāna)
Hana Fresh (Hāna)
Thai Food by Pranee (Hāna)
Kula Bistro (Kula)
Kula Lodge & Restaurant (Kula)
Al’s Pit BBQ (Makawao)
Serpico’s Pizzaria (Pukalani)
Getting to Haleakalā National Park
Hate to state the obvious here, but unless you live in Hawaii getting to this tropical paradise is going to require hopping on a plane for more than a few hours. Flights to Hawaii vary in price throughout the year and many domestic airlines offer some very competitive rates so you don’t have to break the bank to make this happen. Flying to Honolulu is probably your best bet for the most affordable rate, from there you can hop over to Maui on a number of local Hawaiian airlines. If you’re able to, flying into Kahului Airport on Maui will simplify your travel plans quite a bit. From there you can rent a car and be on your way to Haleakalā in no time.
Navigating The Park
Haleakalā National Park and the island of Maui is home to the world famous Road to Hāna (pictured below). The famous road follows the Northeastern coast of Maui is one of the most scenic and precarious in the world. The entire road is one lane and offers little room for error as one navigates the twists, turns, rock slides and floods that are so common along the route. Those who brave the Road to Hāna are rewarded with unparalleled views of the island’s natural splendor and awe-inspiring vistas of the Pacific.
Most roads in the park are narrow and winding and can be dangerous when the weather turns. You’ll want to check the park website for up to the minute information about road closures and conditions throughout the park. It’s also a good idea to call the park and speak with someone about your trip – this way they can give you expert advice on what is and isn’t feasible and answer any questions you might have.
Things to Keep in Mind
Haleakalā National Park is extremely fragile. The ecosystem here is one-of-a-kind and a result of the areas total isolation. Tourism and development have put tremendous pressure on the ecosytem and the native plants and animals that rely on it. Do your part to help protect this incredibly unique and special place and preserve it for future generations.
Roads throughout the park are a bit dicey. Yes you can safely navigate the park in your rental car and should not be discouraged in doing so as it is really the best way to experience the park. With that being said, the roads throughout the park are narrow, winding, and can be dangerous, especially when weather conditions deteriorate. Many local companies offer guided tours and shuttle buses to take you to the park’s most popular destinations – with the added benefit of a knowledgeable local showing you around. This can be an affordable and safe way to visit the park for those not wanting to navigate it themselves. Either way, check the park website for road closures and err on the side of caution if you do opt to drive.
Haleakalā is a rural park. When one thinks of Hawaii the mind typically conjures up images of 5-star resorts, white sand beaches, floral shirts, ukuleles, and swaying palm trees. While these are images evocative of Hawaii, they’re not very representative of Haleakalā National Park. There are few services throughout the park, lodging options are decidedly more primitive than 5-star resorts, and your surroundings are more rugged and muddy than the white sand beaches dotted with parasols in your mind’s eye. This is a national park after all and visitors can rest assured that it delivers on its promise of a rural, rugged, and beautiful adventure destination.
Here are some items to enhance your trip to Haleakalā National Park.
We find this NatGeo Haleakalā map to be the most effective and best all around.
This is a helpful guide for planning your trip to Maui.
Great quick resource for Haleakalā Day Hikes. Gives a fairly comprehensive list of the best hikes.
The Pattiz Brothers, co-founders of More Than Just Parks, select their favorite spot for each National Park. Maybe you’ll like Will’s pick better, maybe you’ll favor Jim’s. In any event, it’s fun for us to share our favorites with you. Hopefully you’ll get the same enjoyment out of our favorite spots in Haleakalā as we did!
About a mile into the often muddy Pīpīwai Trail, past the beautiful Makahiku Falls and a majestic old banyan tree, and you’ll come upon a dense and endlessly fascinating bamboo forest. Here the trail provides a boardwalk for you to travel through the towering bamboo all around you. listen as it sways in the wind and the chutes collide with one another making a music all of their own. The bamboo forest of the Pīpīwai Trail is a one-of-a-kind national park experience that those who make the trip to this far flung destination should be sure to have. (Pictured above: Myself and my wife listening to the bamboo as it sways in the wind).
Sunrise or sunset from the observatory at the summit of Haleakalā is one of the most spectacular views in the entire national park system. There’s a very good reason why Haleakalā means “house of the sun” in Hawaiian. I’ve seen many breathtaking sunsets in my travels and few can compare to the scene from atop Haleakalā. Situated above the clouds with a commanding view of the entire island and the Pacific stretching out into the distance, the Haleakalā summit provides an extraordinary view of the unique spot on the map this on-of-a-kind park occupies. Parking is limited and sunrise is by reservation only so plan accordingly. I recommend sunset for fewer crowds and unforgettable views.
the moment of truth…
What did we miss?
We put a great deal of time into each of our park guides but even we miss important details, and sometimes make mistakes. I know, sounds crazy but it happens. If you feel like we missed something that should go on here or just want to send us a note we welcome the opportunity. You can email us directly: email@example.com