With a summit soaring more than 10,000ft above elevation, Haleakala provides guests with spectacular views of the sunrise, a network of trails for hiking, and spectacular scenery from above the clouds. It is easy to understand why Haleakala is Maui’s biggest attraction. There are many different ways to experience Haleakala National Park and each time of day provides guests with a different and unique experience. We wanted to share some of our knowledge with you in hopes that we will give you some better incite on what to expect when you visit Haleakala during your Maui vacation. Before we discuss the different times of the day you can experience Haleakala, we wanted to give you some helpful information about the volcano first.
Haleakala Volcano Location
This dormant volcano makes up the eastern portion of the island of Maui. The Haleakala National Park itself rests on top of the volcano starting around 7000ft elevation and continues all the way up to the summit. There is currently an entry fee of $15 per car at the entrance of the park in which allows guests to visit. The National Park has great views along the way up to the summit and guests are able to pullover along the way at a safe location.
Though the Haleakala summit does not have a physical address, we find that the best “address” to use when using a smart phone or searching on a computer is to enter “30,000 Haleakala Highway”. Though this address will not take you to the summit, it will take you to the park entrance where you can enter the park from and you will need to add about 10 miles (or about 30 minutes) more to their drive from this address to reach the summit. From Kahului, it will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to this location pending on the road and traffic conditions.
The weather here changes very quickly and regardless of the time of day you wish to visit, we do recommend planning ahead and brining layers of clothes with you. Guests can generally anticipate fairly clear roadways, though at the times in higher elevation (6000+ ft) the cloud coverage can impact visibility in the distance and directly on the road in front of you. Please use caution and drive accordingly based on the conditions.
There are many different places to visit at Haleakala including the visitor center, scenic overlooks, and the summit area itself. Each guest is different in how they wish to experience Haleakala and it really depends on your preferences.
What to Expect At Haleakala
Upon arrival to the National Park, guests will notice a drastic change in temperatures from the beach cities at the summit as temperatures are often 30 (or more!) degrees cooler here. The weather changes quickly during the morning hours, though chances are pretty good that the conditions will be clear for driving as cloud build usually happens later in the day. The summit area in general is very windy in the morning as well and guests are encouraged to bring warm clothing. Don’t forget your camera as the sky often lights up with various shades of pink, orange, red, and yellow. We do recommend arriving 45 minutes early to ensure there is ample time to park and locate a great place to stand. For those guests waiting until the very last minute, the upper parking area of the summit will close fairly quickly due to limited parking.
Haleakala during the day
The daytime hours are quite pleasant at Haleakala on most days. Though the air will still be rather cool (ranging between 50 to 60 degrees), the sun will often feel quite intense due to the very high elevation. Guests will be able to see better inside of the crater and have the opportunity to see the wonderful colors of the crater during the daytime. At times you can see the Big Island of Hawai’i from the summit pending on the visibility that day. Generally the daytime hours allow guests to have better views of the crater and to explore some of the hiking trails when the conditions are favorable and not to windy.
The weather at the top of Haleakala is very “hit and miss” during the evening hours. At times the clouds will build as the day continues on and some days it will be completely clear while other days it will be completely covered. Though the summit may appear to be very cloudy, there is a chance that it will have clear skies above the cloud line though there is also a change that it will be cloudy. The evening hours typically become very windy and very cold (similar to sunrise). At times dense clouds may be found between 6000ft to 9000ft elevation. Please drive carefully and change your driving skills accoridngly.
Though not everyone gets to see the ahinahina, they are certainly spectacular to see in person if you get the chance. This very rare plant grows both on Maui (at Haleakala) as well as on the Big Island of Hawai’i (Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa). If you are fortunate enough to see an ahinahina, please ensure to keep distance away from the plant as they have very shallow and sensitive root systems. Most of the time you will see the silverswords without their flower blooms as they will only flower one time in their life and then die shortly after. As unique as these plants are, please keep in mind that this plant is quite rare and it is best to keep a respectable distance away and always stay on the trail. The ahinahina are known for very shallow root systems and stepping near the plants may seriously damage their root network. Due to recent efforts by the park, these endangered plants are making a huge come back! As you can see in the images below, there are plants growing within view of the National Park parking lot now!
Helpful Tips When Visiting Haleakala
When visiting Haleakala, there are some important tips we would like to share with you to help insure you visit is enjoyable and memorable.
– Weather here changes quickly and is quite unpredictable.
– Drive slowly through the park as there are various native animals live here
– Haleakala is very high altitude and the air is noticeably thinner here, walk at slower speeds
– We recommend to bring different layers of clothes to adjust to the temperatures as needed
– Stop along the way up Haleakala to have pleasant views of the island
– Bring a camera to take pictures of the incredible views.
– Always prepare for changing weather conditions and drive carefully
– Bring some snacks for the drive up, there are not any facilities beyond Kula (town)
– You can find a great map of the Haleakala National Park here
We hope this information has been helpful and will make your visit to Haleakala even better. For further information or details on your visit to the volcano, please feel free to contact us at 808-868-0253 or connect with us via email at info@MauiActivityConcierge.com. Additionally you can also find out more about hiking trails found at Haleakala on our website.
We are looking forward to being of assistance to you!
Maui Activity Concierge