Haleakalā Overview

Haleakalā National Park, located on the island of Maui in the state of Hawai’i, USA, is a stunning expanse of wilderness that covers approximately 33,265 acres (134.62 square kilometers) of the island’s southeastern region. The park is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, rich biodiversity, and cultural significance, divided into two distinct sections: the Summit Area and the Kīpahulu District. The park’s centerpiece is the Haleakalā Crater, a massive shield volcano that forms more than 75% of the island of Maui. Haleakalā, meaning “House of the Sun” in Hawaiian, rises to an elevation of 10,023 feet (3,055 meters), offering visitors spectacular views of its vast crater, cinder cones, and unique ecosystems.

The Summit Area of the park is famous for its otherworldly landscapes, which include the expansive Haleakalā Crater, home to several endangered species and endemic plants. Visitors to the summit at dawn can experience the majestic sunrise, a spectacle that draws people from around the world. The area’s high elevation and clear skies also make it an ideal location for stargazing.

The Kīpahulu District, located on the park’s eastern coast, offers a stark contrast with lush, tropical landscapes, waterfalls, and pools along the Ohe’o Gulch. This area provides opportunities for hiking through bamboo forests and exploring the rich biodiversity of Maui’s coastal rainforest environment.

Haleakalā National Park is not only a place of natural beauty but also holds great cultural importance to the Native Hawaiian people. It is a site of deep spiritual significance, with ancient practices and traditions still observed by the local community. The park offers a diverse array of recreational activities, including hiking, camping, and bird watching, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the natural and cultural heritage of this unique volcanic landscape. Through conservation efforts, Haleakalā National Park continues to protect its fragile ecosystems and cultural sites for future generations to explore and appreciate.

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Haleakalā National Park Highlights

"House of the Sun"

At the summit of Haleakalā, visitors are treated to a landscape unlike any other. Perched at an elevation of over 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), the summit offers panoramic views of the surrounding volcanic terrain, with rugged cliffs, colorful cinder cones, and vast expanses of volcanic rock stretching out as far as the eye can see.

The barren, otherworldly landscape is dotted with hardy vegetation adapted to the harsh conditions, including silversword plants found nowhere else on Earth.

As the first light of dawn breaks over the horizon, the summit of Haleakalā becomes a magical place. Visitors gather in anticipation, bundled up against the chilly morning air, as the sky gradually transforms into a canvas of brilliant hues.

The rising sun paints the clouds with shades of pink, orange, and gold, casting a warm glow over the surreal landscape below. As the sun emerges above the clouds, illuminating the crater with its soft light, a sense of awe and wonder fills the air, creating a truly unforgettable and spiritual experience for all who witness it.

Haleakalā National Park Pictures

Engaging Haleakala National Park

Experience the unforgettable beauty of a sunrise from the summit of Haleakalā, a spiritual and awe-inspiring experience. Wake before dawn and journey to the summit to witness the first light of day illuminating the volcanic landscape, casting vibrant colors across the sky.

As the sun emerges above the clouds, the panoramic views of the crater and surrounding islands are breathtaking, creating a magical moment that will stay with you forever.

Embark on an exhilarating bike tour down the slopes of Haleakalā, descending from the summit through stunning landscapes of volcanic terrain and lush forests.

Guided tours provide the opportunity to explore the park’s diverse ecosystems, with knowledgeable guides sharing insights into the area’s geology, history, and culture.

Feel the wind in your hair as you coast along scenic roads, passing by picturesque vistas and natural landmarks. Bike tours offer an exciting and immersive way to experience the beauty of Haleakalā National Park while enjoying the thrill of adventure.

Discover the natural beauty of Haleakalā National Park from the back of a horse on a guided horseback riding excursion. Traverse scenic trails through volcanic landscapes, verdant forests, and open meadows, soaking in the serenity and splendor of the park’s diverse ecosystems.

Guided tours provide opportunities to learn about the area’s flora, fauna, and cultural significance from experienced guides, who lead riders to hidden gems and viewpoints off the beaten path. Horseback riding in Haleakalā offers a unique and unforgettable way to connect with nature and explore the park’s majestic surroundings at a leisurely pace.

Lace up your hiking boots and explore the network of trails that wind through Haleakalā National Park, offering opportunities to discover its diverse landscapes and unique ecosystems. From leisurely nature walks to challenging treks, there’s a hike for every skill level and interest.

Trek through lush rainforests, along volcanic ridges, and past cascading waterfalls, encountering endemic plant and animal species along the way. Highlights include the Sliding Sands Trail, which descends into the otherworldly landscape of the Haleakalā crater, and the Pipiwai Trail, leading to the spectacular Waimoku Falls.

Hiking in Haleakalā provides a rewarding and immersive way to experience the park’s natural beauty and cultural significance.

Haleakalā National Park Trails

Sliding Sands Trail (Keonehe'ehe'e)

Rating: Strenuous

Distance and Elevation Gain: Up to 11 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 2,800 feet (853 meters) on the return

Description: This trail descends into the Haleakalā crater, offering hikers a lunar-like landscape with vibrant cinder cones and vast silence. The descent is deceivingly easy, with the real challenge being the return climb. Hikers experience the unique geology of a dormant volcano and can observe rare plant species and sweeping views of the crater.

Halemau‘u Trail

Rating: Moderate to Strenuous

Distance and Elevation Gain: Up to 7.4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 1,400 feet (427 meters) if returning from the crater overlook

Description: Starting from the Halemau‘u Trailhead, this hike offers stunning views of the crater and surrounding landscape. The trail includes a switchback descent to the crater floor, leading to the Holua Cabin and Campground. Hikers can enjoy the diverse ecosystems of Haleakalā, including native shrubland and breathtaking vistas.

Pīpīwai Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 650 feet (198 meters)

Description: Located in the Kīpahulu District, the Pīpīwai Trail takes hikers through a lush bamboo forest to the majestic 400-foot Waimoku Falls. Along the way, visitors will pass by several waterfalls, including Makahiku Falls, and enjoy the rich biodiversity of the area. This trail is a showcase of Maui’s tropical beauty.

Pa Ka'oao (White Hill) Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 0.4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 100 feet (30 meters)

Description: This short hike near the Haleakalā Visitor Center leads to a small hilltop with panoramic views of the crater and the summit area. The trail is an easy, quick way to experience the majesty of Haleakalā without embarking on a strenuous hike, making it perfect for sunrise or sunset viewing.

Leleiwi Overlook Trail

Rating: Easy to Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: About 0.5 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain

Description: A short hike from the parking area, this trail leads to an overlook offering spectacular views of Haleakalā’s crater. On clear days, hikers can see the Big Island of Hawai‘i from the overlook. The trail itself passes through native shrubland, providing a glimpse into the park’s unique ecology.


1. What is Haleakala National Park known for?

Haleakalā National Park, located on the island of Maui in Hawaii, is known for its stunning volcanic landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and breathtaking sunrises.

The park is centered around the Haleakalā volcano, a massive shield volcano that forms more than 75% of the island of Maui. Its name translates to “House of the Sun” in Hawaiian, and visitors flock to the summit of Haleakalā to witness spectacular sunrise views above the clouds.

The park also encompasses a unique wilderness area featuring volcanic craters, cinder cones, and lush rainforests teeming with endemic plant and animal species.

Additionally, Haleakalā National Park offers excellent hiking opportunities, with trails ranging from easy walks to challenging backcountry treks, allowing visitors to explore its diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage.

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  • Britannica, Haleakala,, retrieved April 2024.
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  • National Geographic, Complete National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Publishing, Washington DC.
  • National Geographic, Guide to the National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Society, 2003.
  • National Geographic, National Parks of North America, Canada-United States-Mexico, National Geographic Society, 1995.
  • National Park Service, Haleakala,, retrieved April 2024.