Haleakala National Park

Ahhhhh Maui…where to begin? I will be posting a number of posts on my Maui trip as there is so much to write about and cover but I am going to start with Haleakala National Park. If you follow me regularly, you know I like National parks and actually one of my new goals is to go to each one on the United States. I have some 30 to go but I doubt that any I’ve yet to visit can be as awesome as Haleakala.

Haleakala means ‘House of the Sun’ in Hawaiian. Its summit is over 10,000 feet tall and the views at the top are breathtaking. Not only the views of the island and the Pacific Ocean but of the enormous crater at the top of the dormant volcano.

In order to get up to the crater, there is a 20+ miles slow, scenic drive that curves around the volcano and gives unparalleled views of Maui. It seems to look different at each vantage point so if you visit during the day, be sure to add in some extra time for pictures and just enjoying the different viewpoints.

The summit itself looks like Mars. That would explain why the end scene from the original ‘Total Recall’ movie was shot there in the early 90’s. I was told that it could actually fit the entire island of Manhattan inside of the crater. I’m not sure how they figure that out but what I do know is the views are fantastic and the reddish hills and mountains within the crater are beautiful.

At the summit there are a variety of hikes you can take around the rim of the crater and even on the sides to different vantage points. Keep in mind though that it is really cold up at the summit. Again, you’re up at over 10,000 feet and the wind howls up there. Even during the middle of the day, when I was there, I needed a jacket for sure.

Haleakala is most famously viewed at sunrise although many say sunset is equally good if not better. I did not manage to make it back up for either event but if I thought it was as gorgeous as I did during the middle of the day, I can only imagine what it looks like with the sunrise or sunset.

Haleakala National Park is also known for a clear sky; which is why there is a massive observatory at the summit. Apparently the University of Hawaii uses it for astrophysical experiments and since it is above the tropical inversion layer, these experiments couldn’t be conducted anywhere else. I’ve always been a sucker for astronomy (NOT Astrology).

So on your next visit to Maui, don’t forget to check out the behemoth that overlooks Maui in Haleakala. Give yourself some time and plan it out for sunrise or sunset if you like, but any time is a good time to check it out. Just remember to bring a jacket!

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  1. I loved Haleakala. I saw the sunset and it was lovely. You are quite right though, it is very cold up there and when the sun goes down, it is downright freezing.

  2. Hey Lee, another great article. This place is high on my list, great photos-that crater looks amazing.

  3. Been there, did the sunrise thing-was great even though I went kicking and screaming-the wife made me get up that early!

  4. Sounds like an amazing spot Lee, beautiful pictures. It’s good you made them bigger for this post.

  5. Beautiful photos Lee, maybe you can take me next time 😉

  6. Total Recall was one of my favorite films growing up. I had no idea they filmed that scene in hawaii, now I definitely want to go even more than before

    • Ya I thought that was cool too…loved that movie and am still baffled that they remade it so soon and that they picked Farrell to play the Arnold character…would never see it

  7. Tricia Mumby says

    awesome post! I’m trying to book a vacay to Maui over xmas with my nature-loving kid & hubs. Do you have a good recco for places to stay? thanks!

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