Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii

16 Best Things to Do in Haleakala National Park: The Ultimate 2023 Guide!

The best things to do in Haleakala National Park are both memorable and diverse.

From standing at the summit of a volcano and hiking into the Martian landscape of the crater valley to walking through a dense forest of bamboo on Maui’s lush east coast, Haleakala National Park offers many bucket list adventures.

Haleakala National Park should definitely feature on your Maui itinerary, especially if you want to explore the island beyond its beaches and resorts. In fact, the park is one of the best places to visit in Hawaii!

Silversword in bloom at Haleakala NP in Maui, Hawaii
A Haleakala silversword in bloom at the park

We count sunrise on Haleakala as one of our top travel memories of all time. If the weather gods are on your side, it’s an experience that can’t easily be beaten!

In this article, we describe the most exciting things to do in Haleakala National Park, along with tips on when to visit and other things to know before you go.

Ready? Let’s get started discovering the best things to do in Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii!

Waimoku Falls in the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park in Maui
Waimoku Falls in the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park

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An Overview of Haleakala National Park

One of only two national parks in Hawaii (the other is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island), Haleakala National Park is a must for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The Haleakala crater, after which the park is named, towers over Maui. At over 10,000 feet, the top of the volcano is visible from almost everywhere on the island.

Haleakala translates to “House of the Sun.”

According to Hawaiian lore, the goddess Hina complained to her sun, the demi-god Maui, that the sun moved too fast across the sky for her kapa cloth to dry.

Maui lassoed the sun, only releasing it when the sun promised to move slower across the sky. Based on this pact, Haleakala is named “the crater of the sun.”

The volcano last erupted between 1480 and 1600, and east Maui’s geologic history indicates it could erupt again in the future!

The park covers just over 33,000 acres and is one of the smallest national parks in the US.

But it features a variety of landscapes and a treasure trove of flora and fauna. There are more endangered species in Haleakala National Park than any other US national park.

Haleakala National Park is made up of two districts: the Summit District and the Kipahulu District. There is no road that connects the two sections, which stretch from the cinder cones of the crater to the lush rainforest at the coast.

Hiking the Haleakala Crater in Maui, Hawaii
Hiking into the crater valley at the Summit District of Haleakala National Park

Things to Do in Haleakala National Park (Summit District)

1. Watch the Sunrise at Haleakala National Park

Sunrise at Haleakala National Park is at the top of the wishlist for many first-time visitors to Maui, whether you drive up on your own or join a guided tour.

A Haleakala sunrise, above the clouds at an elevation of 10,000 feet, can be breathtaking. Mark Twain called it “the sublimest spectacle” he had ever seen.

Along with the Road to Hana, sunrise at Haleakala is one of the top things to do in Maui.

Sunrise at the summit of Haleakala is one of the top experiences in Haleakala National Park!
Sunrise at the summit of Haleakala

You’ll drive up when it’s still dark out, with thousands of stars twinkling in the night sky, and arrive at the lookout to view the sunrise just as it is getting light.

You may even have a park ranger recite the e ala e oli — the sunrise chant — just before the sun rises.

If you are not socked in by clouds, watching the golden orb of the sun bathe the crater with warm mellow light is an almost religious experience, one that you will treasure forever.

Sunrise in the Summit District of Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii
The sun rises over the Haleakala Crater

Yes, you do have to wake up early. Really early, in fact!!!

But if you schedule the Haleakala sunrise experience for the start of your stay in Maui, it’s easier, because you will still be on mainland time at that point.

Also, temperatures at the summit of the Haleakala crater are 30 degrees colder than at sea level, so dressing warmly is imperative.

Good to know: You now need a parking reservation to experience sunrise at the summit of Haleakala. You can make your reservation online at recreation.gov. There is a reservation fee of $1.00.

Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance of your planned visit date. Slots open at 7 a.m. Hawaii Time, and often sell out within minutes, so snag yours as soon as your date opens up!

Some slots are also released 2 days in advance, again at 7 a.m. HST.

Reservations are only required to park at the summit between 3.00 a.m. to 7.00 a.m. You can visit Haleakala National Park otherwise without a reservation.

Guided Haleakala sunrise tour: If you do not relish the thought of driving the winding road up to the summit of Haleakala in the dark, or you do not have a parking reservation for the date of your visit, book a tour!

This popular tour takes you up to the summit of Haleakala with a guide. It includes round-trip transportation, breakfast, and entrance fees, and you do not have to worry about reservations.

>> Check price and availability on this Haleakala sunrise tour now!

2. Enjoy Sunset at Haleakala National Park

Not an early riser? Sunset at the top of Haleakala can be just as spectacular!

Witnessing a colorful sunset is one of the most memorable experiences you can have in Haleakala National Park.

If you aren’t socked in, you may witness the sky change to hues of brilliant orange and bright pink just after the sun sinks into the clouds below.

Plus, sunset doesn’t need you to make parking reservations, and can be combined with stargazing if you are okay with driving down after dark.

Brilliant Haleakala sunset in Maui, Hawaii
A Haleakala sunset is spectacular when conditions are just right!
Sunset at the summit of Haleakala in Maui, HI
Sunset at the summit on a clear evening without colorful skies

Plan to arrive early, because you may encounter a line of cars at the entrance station and you want to make sure you can get to the lookout area in time.

Also, parking lots at the top close when they are at capacity and arriving well ahead of sunset will make it easier to snag a spot.

There is more than one spot from which to take in a gorgeous colorful sunset at the top of Haleakala: the very summit is the top site, but you can also watch from the Visitor Center or the Kalahaku Overlook.

Sunset at the Haleakala Observatory in Maui, Hawaii
The observatory at Haleakala at sunset

Dress warm…as we mentioned above, the summit is much colder than sea level and you will freeze without layers, beanies, gloves, and thick warm socks.

Bring a waterproof windcheater, in case you encounter wet weather or breezy conditions at the top.

If you do not wish to drive, consider this popular sunset Haleakala tour. You’ll stay to watch the stars come out after dark! The tour includes round-trip transport in an air-conditioned vehicle and park entrance.

>> Check price and availability for this Haleakala sunset tour now!

3. Go Stargazing at the Summit of Haleakala!

The Summit District of Haleakala National Park is an excellent spot for night sky observation, with dark skies and barely any light pollution.

Plus, because of the high elevation, the atmosphere is usually much clearer than at sea level.

Stargazing at the summit of the crater is definitely one of the most exciting things to do in Haleakala National Park!

You’ll see thousands of stars twinkling in the night sky here if you visit on a clear moonless night.

If you want to see the Milky Way in all its glory, definitely place stargazing at Haleakala on your Maui itinerary for March through September.

The Milky Way at the summit of the crater in Haleakala National Park, Maui
Admiring the beauty of the Milky Way at the Haleakala Summit!

Bring lightweight chairs or a blanket so you can be comfortable for your night sky viewing session, and dress warmly.

Switch off white lights, let your eyes get used to the darkness, and enjoy!

Serious hobby astronomers will want to bring their portable telescopes and their star guides.

4. Stand at the Very Top of Haleakala!

The Pu‘u ‘ula‘ula Summit is the very top of Haleakala: the highest point of the highest peak on Maui.

And one of the top things to do in Haleakala National Park is standing at this spot!

Puu Ulaula translates to “Red Hill.” It is 10,023 feet above sea level, although it used to be much higher — 15,000 feet — in the past.

To get to Puu Ulaula, drive further up the crater from the Haleakala Visitor Center, and turn right at the intersection at mile marker 21.

Park at the summit parking lot, from where you just have to climb a few steps or walk up a ramp to the cabin at the top.

The shelter at Puu Ulaula, the summit of Haleakala
The shelter at the very top of the Haleakala peak

Looking northwest from here, you get spectacular views over the crater.

Looking southeast, you may be able to see Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii!

Looking southwest, you will see Science City and the Haleakala observatories, which are not open to the public.

The observatory and science center at the top of Haleakala in Maui
The Observatory at Haleakala

5. Step inside a Haleakala Visitor Center

There are actually two visitor centers in the Summit District of Haleakala National Park.

The main visitor center is located just a mile past the entrance gate, at 7,000 feet above sea level. Here you can browse exhibits about the natural and cultural history of Haleakala.

Rangers are available to answer questions and help you plan your activities in the park. Ask about any ranger programs happening during your visit: they can be super fun and very informative!

There are restrooms and drinking water stations, as well as a bookstore.

This visitor center is open daily, except for Federal holidays, from 8.30 a.m. until 4.30 p.m.

The second visitor center in the Summit District is located about a 30-minute drive further in, at the rim of the volcanic valley. Located at 9,740 feet above sea level, it’s a great spot from which to take photos!

Snapping photos from the Haleakala Visitor Center is one of the best things to do in Haleakala National Park, Maui
The Haleakala Visitor Center has a stunning location!

Here too rangers are available for questions, and you can browse informational displays. There’s also a bookstore here if you want to buy a souvenir.

Restrooms and drinking water are available.

This visitor center is open daily, except for Federal holidays, from sunrise until 4.00 p.m.

6. Hike Up to the Pā Kaʻoao Overlook!

At the summit visitor center, you can hike a super short trail to the Pā Kaʻoao Overlook.

The hike is just 0.4 mile round trip, but it’s uphill. The trail was built in 1934 by the CCC.

From the Pā Kaʻoao Overlook, you get different views of the crater, and you can also view some old archaeological sites on the other side of the hill.

A view from the Pa Ka‘oao Summit in Haleakala National Park, Maui, HI
A view from the Pā Kaʻoao summit

The “pā” refer to walls, fences, or enclosures and the legend goes that they were built by the army of Ka‘oao, a chief that was fleeing with his soldiers from a rival and needed a place to rest for the night.

7. Hike the Sliding Sands Trail

The Sliding Sands Trail is one of the most epic hikes in Maui. Hiking this trail is one of the most exciting things to do in Haleakala National Park!

Officially the Keonehe’ehe’e Trail, this hike is the primary way to explore the Martian landscape of the Haleakala crater.

From the trailhead at the summit visitor center, the Sliding Sands Trail descends into the colorful crater, and you can choose how far you want to go.

The Sliding Sands Trail at the Haleakala National Park Summit District in Maui, HI.
Hiking the Sliding Sands Trail into the Haleakala Crater

You can do as little as just descend to the first viewpoint before retracing your steps back to the top, or you can go further down, all the way to the crater floor (about 2,500 feet over close to 4 miles).

Many hikers hike up to the Ka Lu’u o ka O’o cinder cone, about 2.5 miles into the crater, before returning to to the top.

Or you can hike Keonehe’ehe’e Trail to a little past Pele’s Paint Pot, and return to the top via the Halemau’u Trail, a distance of just over 11 miles, overnighting if needed at one of the cabins. Advance reservations are needed for cabins.

Pele's Paint Pot Haleakala NP Maui HI
Pele’s Paint Pot, in the Haleakala Crater

If you pick this last option, you’ll need transport back to the trailhead parking lot where you left your car. Most hikers hitch rides back.

As you hike, look for silversword plants and birds!

8. Go Birdwatching in Hosmer Grove

At 7,000 feet above sea level, the Hosmer Grove Loop Trail is a lower elevation hike in the Summit District of Haleakala National Park. It’s an easy, flat walk.

If you are an avid birder or you enjoy walking among trees, you’ll want to place this hike on your itinerary for the park!

'I'iwi at Hosmer Grove in Haleakala NP, Maui, Hawaii
A beautiful little ʻiʻiwi at Hosmer Grove

The Hosmer Grove is known for its spruce, pine, cedar, and eucalyptus trees, planted by Ralph Hosmer in the early 1900s.

The half-mile nature trail winds through this grove of introduced trees and ends at native shrubland.

Hosmer Grove at Haleakala National Patk in Maui, Hawaii
A view of tree trunks in Hosmer Grove

On the trail, look for sandalwood plants, ʻiliahi, with their beautiful pink flowers, or the silver geranium.

Also be on the lookout for birds!

You may see the striking ʻiʻiwi, a threatened species, or the equally beautiful ʻapapane, endemic to the Hawaiian islands.

You’ll find the trailhead for the Hosmer Grove Nature Trail along a side road at mile marker 10.5 on the Haleakala Highway. Look for the sandalwood tree at the start of the trail!

9. Take in the Views from the Kalahaku Overlook

The Kalahaku Overlook, located above 9,300 feet, offers spectacular views of the Haleakala crater valley.

View from the Kalahaku Overlook at Haleakala NP in Maui.
A view from the Kalahaku Overlook

A small structure marks the viewing area, reached with a super short walk of 0.1 mile.

Sometimes, when it’s socked in at the summit, you can still get a clear look into the crater from this overlook. It’s also an alternative place to watch sunrise or sunset.

If you brought your binoculars, scan the landscape for the ʻuaʻu , a Hawaiian petrel that nests in the area. The seabird only lays one egg each year.

10. Enjoy the Views from the Leleiwi Overlook

For another perspective on the Haleakala crater, stop by the Leleiwi Overlook at about 8,800 feet above sea level.

A view from the Leleiwi Overlook in Haleakala NP, Maui
A view from the Leleiwi Overlook on a clear day

From the parking lot, the viewing area is a short 0.15-mile stepped walk. Along the way, stop to admire the native plants.

From the overlook, you can see not only into the crater valley on a clear day, but also the Kaupo Gap and the northern coast of Maui through the Koolau Gap.

The red cinder cones make for great photos!

The overlook is also an alternative spot to view sunrise or sunset.

11. Look for the Endangered Silversword

The Haleakala silversword is a striking plant that you’ll see in the Summit District of Haleakala National Park.

For plant enthusiasts, seeing and photographing a silversword in one of the main attractions in Haleakala National Park.

It’s a long-lived arid climate plant, with some living as long as 90 years.

A Haleakala silversword growing at the summit of the crater in Maui, Hawaii
A Haleakala silversword, growing at the summit of the crater

Once dug up and taken home by visitors as souvenirs, the silversword plant is now protected as an endangered species.

Its silver-gray hairs, pointy leaves, and beautiful rosette shape makes the plant a great photo subject..but please only snap photos from designated paths or trails.

The Haleakala silversword sends up an impressive flower stalk: if you are lucky you’ll see one in bloom when you visit.

Haleakala silversword in bloom in Maui, Hawaii
A Haleakala silversword in bloom

It only blooms once, and then dies, with the winds scattering the many seeds on the stalk for new plants to grow.

12. Overnight in the Crater!

Outdoor enthusiasts can plan on a bucket-list experience at Haleakala: spending a night or two in the iconic crater.

There are three historic wilderness cabins in the Haleakala Crater that can only be accessed by hiking: Kapalaoa, Palikū, and Hōlua.

The nearest cabin, Holua, requires a one-way hike of about 3.7 miles down the Halemauʻu trail, or 7.4 miles one way from the Sliding Sands trailhead.

Wilderness tent camping is available at Hōlua and Palikū.

Cabins or campsites must be reserved in advance at recreation.gov.

13. Ride a Bike down Haleakala

If you are an expert downhill bike rider, you may want to consider biking down Haleakala.

You’ll be taken up to the start point in a van, either on a dedicated bike tour or on a sunrise viewing cum downhill biking tour.

The bike ride starts at an elevation of 6,500 feet, and on the ride down you can explore upcountry Maui, and the charming town of Makawao, with its little shops and galleries.

The Haleakala Highway winds through upcountry Maui
The Haleakala Highway (Crater Road) winds through upcountry Maui

Note that you will be sharing Crater Road with automobile traffic, and the road is narrow and winding, with fairly steep grades. The ride isn’t for the faint of heart.

>>> Check pricing and availability for the sunrise viewing + downhill biking tour now!

>>> Check price and availability for the dedicated morning Haleakala biking tour now!

Things to Do in Haleakala National Park (Kipahulu District)

14. Hike the Pipiwai Trail

Just as the Sliding Sands Trail is the definitive hike in the Summit District of Haleakala National Park, the Pipiwai Trail is the must-hike trail in the Kipahulu District.

The 4-mile round trip hike is rated moderate, and takes you past a huge banyan tree and an otherworldly bamboo forest before ending at the dramatic 400-foot Waimoku Falls.

The banyan tree isn’t as large as the one in Lahaina, but it is impressive nevertheless. Makes for a great photo!

The boardwalk trail through the bamboo is our favorite portion of the Pipiwai Trail.

Bamboo forest along the Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala NP, Maui
The Pipiwai Trail goes through the Haleakala bamboo forest!

Stop for a bit to hear the “chiming” of the bamboo stalks as they brush up against each other in the breeze!

This is an awesome trail if you want to experience the lush tropical side of Maui!

Wear closed-toed shoes with good grip that you don’t mind getting dirty, as the trail can be muddy and slippery. And bring a rain jacket!

The trailhead for the Pipiwai Trail is at the parking lot for the Kipahulu District of the park. Gates to the parking lot shut promptly at 5 p.m., so you want to exit the parking lot by then.

15. Hike the Kuloa Point Loop Trail

A much shorter and easier hike that starts from the Kipahulu District parking lot is the Kuloa Point Loop Trail.

Just about 0.5 mile in length, the loop trail makes for a pleasant walk to the coast and back.

Along the way, you’ll see archaeological sites with remnants of walls and thatched houses, and a grove of native hala trees. There’s also a banyan tree, albeit not too large, and other native flora.

A banyan tree along the Kuloa Trail in Kipahulu, Maui
A banyan tree along the Kuloa Loop Trail

The views of the ocean are fabulous, as are the views over the waterfalls and pools of O’heo Gulch.

16. Visit the Seven Sacred Pools at O’heo Gulch

Located at the ocean’s edge, the pools and waterfalls of O’heo make for a pretty picture.

Looking landward, there are numerous pools of different sizes, and waterfalls cascading down into the pools.

Waterfalls at Oheo Gulch in Maui, HI
Waterfalls at O’heo Gulch

Looking oceanward, the deep blue of the ocean and the crashing waves against the small black sand beach add to the drama of the scene.

Oheo Gulch Kipahulu District Haleakala National Park Maui
Looking toward the ocean at O’heo Gulch

Once you used to be able to swim here, but no more. Falling rocks and the danger of flash floods have closed the pools to wading or swimming.

The pools themselves may also be closed off to access, which means you can only view them from above (from the Kuloa Trail).

Call the park ahead of time if visiting the Seven Sacred Pools is the reason why you’ll visit the Kipahulu District.

Map of Things to Do in Haleakala National Park

Getting to Haleakala National Park

There is no public transport to Haleakala National Park, so your options are to either rent a car and drive yourself, or join a guided tour.

How to Get to the Summit District of Haleakala National Park

Head to Kahului, where you will take Route 36 towards Hana. Then turn right onto the Haleakala Highway (Route 37) and go for about 8 miles.

At the intersection with Haleakala Road, keep on the Haleakala Highway and go for another 6 miles.

Turn left onto Crater Road (Route 378): you’ll see the brown sign for Haleakala National Park. This road will take you up to the sights at the summit of Haleakala.

Go slow on the switchbacks up to the summit and watch out for nene, Hawaiian geese, that tend to hang out on this road!

Here’s a map of the route.

If you are based in West Maui, note that it is quite a drive from popular places along the west shore to the Summit District of Haleakala National Park.

The road to the top of the Haleakala Crater in Maui
The road to the top of the Haleakala crater!

Here is the total distance and drive time, in normal traffic, to the visitor center at the summit of Haleakala:

Kahului: 37.9 miles, 1 hour 15 minutes
Kihei: 46.2 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes
Lahaina: 59.0 miles, 1 hour 46 minutes
Kaanapali: 62.8 miles, 1 hour 53 minutes
Kapalua: 68 miles, 2 hours 4 minutes
Maalaea: 43.9 miles, 1 hour 24 minutes
Wailea: 50.8 miles, 1 hour 35 minutes
Paia: 33.9 miles, 1 hour 8 minutes

How to Get to the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park (Hana Highway)

Head to Kahului, where you will take Route 36 towards Hana. It becomes Route 360, also called the Hana Highway, or the Road to Hana.

The Road to Hana is a major Maui attraction. The road is a twisting, turning road with over 600 switchbacks and close to 60 one-lane bridges.

Drive past the town of Hana for another 10.3 miles to arrive at the Kipahulu Visitor Center of Haleakala National Park.

Here is a map of the route, and below are the driving distances and times from various places in Maui, with no stops.

Kahului: 61.5 miles, 2 hours 36 minutes
Kihei: 69.7 miles, 2 hours 50 minutes
Lahaina: 82.5 miles, 3 hours 10 minutes
Kaanapali: 62.8 miles, 3 hours 16 minutes
Kapalua: 91.5 miles, 3 hours 25 minutes
Maalaea: 67.5 miles, 2 hours 44 minutes
Wailea: 74.3 miles, 2 hours 56 minutes
Paia: 55 miles, 2 hours 20 minutes
Hana: 10.3 miles, 30 minutes

Note that during the day, the Hana Highway can be quite congested so an early departure is a must, as is managing the time you spend at various stops along the route.

If you want to hike the Pipiwai Trail in its entirety, you should be at the park by about 2.30 p.m. at the latest. Or, spend the night in Hana and hike the trail early the next morning!

Road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii
The Road to Hana leads to the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park

How to Get to the Kipahulu District (Highway 37 and Piilani Hwy)

You can also get to the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park via Route 37 and the Pi’ilani Highway, which runs along the bottom of the island.

This is a scenic route with spectacular ocean views and views of the back side of the Haleakala mountain.

The back side of Haleakala on Maui
A view of the back side of Haleakala

Note that your rental car agreement may not permit you to drive this route in your rental car. A part of this route is unpaved and some paved portions can be very rough as well.

Here’s a map of this route.

Again, if you are based in West Maui, remember to add the drive time from your accommodation to Kahului when figuring out how long it will take to arrive.

Renting a car for your Maui trip?
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Check price and availability on a car rental for Maui now!

The Best Time to Visit Haleakala National Park

You can visit Haleakala National Park year round.

Typically, daytime high temperatures tend to be around 80 degrees at the Kipahulu District at sea level, while the daytime high temperature at the summit is typically about 30 degrees lower.

Winter and summer tend to be busy seasons in Maui as a whole. Families vacation here in the summer, and winter brings travelers seeking warmth.

Therefore, you’ll likely find the park more crowded at these times of the year.

Spring and fall are less crowded, so you may have a more relaxed experience in the park at these times.

Note that it can rain any time of the year. Weather in the higher elevations can change without warning.

The Pipiwai Trail in the Kipahulu District of Haleakala NP in Maui
The Pipiwai Trail through tropical forest in Haleakala National Park

How much time to allow for Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park is made up of two distinct districts, and there is no road that connects the two districts.

If you want to visit both the Summit District and the Kipahulu District, allow one day for each district at a minimum.

Especially if you are based in West Maui, drive times are too long to get to both districts in a single day and do anything meaningful.

In one day at the summit, you can experience sunrise or sunset if you wish, hike a short trail or part way into the crater and back, enjoy a picnic lunch, and take in the views from different viewpoints.

You’ll need about one half of a day at the Kipahulu District if you want to hike the Pipiwai Trail and check out the Seven Sacred Pools.

Haleakala silversword plant at golden hour in Haleakala National Park, Maui
A silversword plant at the summit, snapped during golden hour

Tips for Visiting Haleakala National Park

Note hours of operation and fees

The Summit District of Haleakala National Park is open 24/7, but you need a parking reservation if you visit on your own and want to enter between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m.

According to the official park site, the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park is also open 24 hours. But the gated parking lot at Kipahulu is usually only open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., with last entry at 4.30 p.m.

If you do not exit before 5 p.m., your car may be locked in.

Always check park closures status and hours of operation on the park website right before your visit.

Haleakala National Park has a entrance fee, and at the time of writing, it is $30.00 per car, $25.00 per motorcycle, or $15.00 per person for walk-ins.

The entrance is valid for 3 days, and valid for both the Summit District and the Kipahulu District.

Bring your credit card to pay at the automated machine if you arrive outside of the hours when the station is staffed.

A nene or Hawaiian goose, in Haleakala National Park, Maui
Watch out for nene along the roads in the Haleakala National Park!

Bring your National Parks Pass!

The America the Beautiful National Parks Pass is valid at both districts of Haleakala National Park so remember to pack and bring yours when you visit!

If you do not have a pass, you can buy an annual pass online at REI.

Check for special closures and safety alerts right before you go

ALWAYS check the park website for partial or full closures and other alerts.

As I am writing this, there is an alert saying the summit of Haleakala is partially closed due to high wind.

Check right before you head out and at Kahului.

The Summit District and the Kipahulu District are both far away from popular bases in West Maui. Plus, neither drive is easy.

You definitely do not want to drive all the way and find that your most anticipated activity is not available, or that the park is closed.

Bring food and snacks

There is no food available for purchase inside either district of Haleakala National Park, so bring food and snacks with you for your visit.

If you plan a Haleakala sunrise visit and want to buy your food, remember to do it the evening before!

Night sky at Haleakala National Park, Maui
The beautiful night sky in the Summit District

Make your reservations for sunrise at the summit

If you plan to drive up to the summit of Haleakala independently for sunrise, remember you need a parking reservation to arrive between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Reservations open 60 days in advance at 7 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time. Slots may sell out, so make yours as soon as your date opens up!

A limited number of slots are also opened 2 days in advance at 7 a.m. Hawaii time, if you didn’t snag your spot already.

Make your reservation online here. There is a $1.00 reservation fee.

Once you reserve, download the reservation confirmation (or print a hard copy and bring it with you).

Dress warm for sunrise or sunset at the Haleakala summit

The summit of Haleakala can be close to freezing early and late, and the wind chill can make it seem EVEN colder.

Dress warm, very warm, and don’t forget thick socks. Bring a windproof, waterproof jacket, plus beanie, gloves, and a scarf.

We also brought along a blanket (borrowed from our accommodation).

Bring a rain jacket for Kipahulu

If you plan to hike the Pipiwai Trail or the Kuloa Trail, you’ll want a rain jacket with a hood because the Kipahulu District is in the lush and rainy part of the island.

Also remember bug spray: the tropical vegetation is gorgeous, but you’ll want protection from the mosquitoes.

A chukar partridge in Haleakala National Park, Maui
You may see a chukar partridge along the Sliding Sands Trail!

Don’t expect cell reception

There is little to no cell reception in Haleakala National Park.

Download all maps and brochures you need prior to heading out to either the Summit District or the Kipahulu District.

Fill up your gas tank

There are no gas stations at Haleakala National Park, and no electric vehicle charging stations.

If you are visiting the Summit District, the last town to fill up is Pukalani.

We suggest not taking an electric vehicle to the Summit District as you may run out of charge en route.

If you are visiting the Kipahulu District, the last town before you hit the Road to Hana is Paia. Be sure to fill up your gas tank here.

Join a guided tour

If you would rather not drive, or you want to experience sunrise but didn’t manage to get a reservation, here are some guided tours to consider:

Stay at a front-country Haleakala campground!

Haleakala National Park offers campsites in both districts, but reserve your spot at recreation.gov.

The Hosmer Grove Campground offers easy access to the Summit District. There are six tent camping sites here, each with a picnic table, grill, and parking spot. Pit toilets are available.

The Kipahulu Campground is located in an open area overlooking the ocean and offers 20 sites. There are vault toilets but no water or showers. The Kipahulu Visitor Center has a comfort station with water and flush toilets.

Consider basing in Paia for a couple of nights!

If you want a base that’s cute plus convenient for exploring both the Summit District of Haleakala National Park and the Road to Hana plus the Kipahulu District of the park, consider staying in Paia for a couple of nights.

The drive is much shorter and Paia is a charming town, with many good dining options.

Here’s where you will find the acclaimed Mama’s Fish House, but reserve well ahead if you want to dine here!

Book a stay at the Paia Inn! The guesthouse is located near the beach and is walking distance to eateries. It gets excellent reviews!

>> Check price and availability for the Paia Inn now!

More Maui Travel Inspiration

If you are planning a visit to Maui, check out some of our other in-depth guides to craft the perfect Maui itinerary!

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Discover the best things to do in Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii, from watching sunrise at the summit to hiking through a bamboo forest! Plus, tips for the best experience!

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