Haleakala National Park
- Type: Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation
- Time to Spend: Half Day to Full Day
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More than a million tourists annually visit Haleakala National Park, home to the world's largest dormant volcano. The entire park occupies 30,000 acres of land in Upcountry Maui, though most visitors focus on a few specific areas of the park. Of course, there's the mountain: Haleakala's summit stands more than 10,000 feet above sea level (in fact, you can see it from any point on the island). Travelers recommend making planning your visit to the summit in the morning to see the sunrise. A fairly winding road (Route 378) will lead you to the top. No matter when you visit, be sure to wear warm layers. The air up top is thin and chilly.
Once you reach the top of Haleakala, you can keep going — down into the mouth of the volcano. The Haleakala Crater measures 19 square miles and offers a stark glimpse of Hawaii's early beginnings. Trails into the crater will lead you past a desert-like landscape, making for unique photo opportunities. According to recent visitors, watching the sunrise from here is also a great experience. "This is simply something you have to see in your lifetime," one TripAdvisor user said. "Watching the sun come up over the horizon from atop the mountain was a site we will never forget."
But don't limit yourself to just the volcano. The park's most popular trail, Pipiwai, is actually at sea level, meandering for 4 miles along Maui's southeast coast to the Waimoku Falls and the Seven Sacred Pool of Oheo Gulch. The takes three to five hours to complete, but you'll walk away with some stunning photos.
Haleakala National Park is located in southern Maui and welcomes visitors 24 hours a day. You'll find three visitor centers: The Park Headquarter Visitors Center sits nere the northern corner of the park along the road to the summit, the Haleakala Visitor Center can be found near the top of the mountain, and the Kipahulu Visitor Center sits along the southeast portion of the park (at the head of the Pipiwai trail). Each visitor center features its own hours of operation. You can enter the park on foot for $5 per person or in a car for $10, and admission is good for three consecutive days. Check out the National Park Service's website for more details.