Haleakala, Crown Jewel on Maui

The Park Service has been increased physical access to the park. Haleakala Crater trails are now open for day use in the Summit District. The Kipahulu District is also now open 9:00 am-5:00 pm daily. All of the visitor centers have been reopened.

The sheer popularity of Haleakala National Park had already led to significant changes. That as the increased number of Haleakala sunrise visits caused damage to the area, traffic jams, and accidents. Read on for those details.

Plan your Haleakala sunrise visit.

The Summit District of the park, from the entrance to the summit at 10,023 feet is always open. If you plan to visit at sunrise, which something which you’ll simply never forget, you’ll require Haleakala sunrise reservations between the hours of 3 am and 7 am daily.

When you visit Mt. Haleakala, the following is an update on how it works.

1. Haleakala sunrise reservations required.

A reserve before you go system is in effect. This was done to help mitigate issues caused by the sheer number of visitors.

Guests accessing the park summit from 3 am to 7 am are required to reserve in advance and pay a $1 per vehicle fee. Then on the day of your visit, pay the $20 park entrance (payable on entrance). Reserved guests then show up with their receipt and photo ID to gain access. Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance.

A prior reservation is not required for any other time of day. The $20 park entrance fee (up from $15) provides access to both park districts for up to three days with your receipt. Read on for days when the $20 entrance fee is waived.

How to book in advance. Book online at recreation.gov or call the reservation phone line at 877-444-6777.

2. Sunset at Haleakala.

Mount Haleakala - a Crown Jewel on Maui

We visited the summit of Haleakala Crater in the afternoon for sunset as well as for sunrise. As you can see from the photo, sunset was also completely spectacular. Having driven up for sunrise on many occasions, this timing seemed like an interesting change. The afternoon drive is usually very different with few cars. The last time we visited, we had the windy road virtually to ourselves. When coming for sunrise, you can expect to find traffic all the way.

3. An easy drive up – but, slow down and take your time.

Don’t be intimidated by the drive to Haleakala. Just slow down and savor it. Once we turned up Crater Drive it took about 45 minutes to reach the summit. The views and scenery along the way are simply breathtaking. You’ll find the road in pristine condition from when it leaves Olinda, all the way to the 10,000-foot peak.

Once near the top, there’s a visitor center and a short hike. That’s not the end of the road, however, there’s more to see at the top where you’ll find an enclosed observation deck (which we can’t confirm to be open yet) and surreal views over the crater to the ocean beyond. We also saw the two summits of the Big Island in the distance.

4. Entrance to the vast park.

The well-maintained Haleakala National Park is vast, encompassing far more than the famous volcanic summit. It starts at the ocean at the Kīpahulu area, which is accessed just beyond Hana. That’s home to O’Heo gulch, also knows as Seven Sacred Pools (which remains closed until further notice). Hiking trails in Kīpahulu remain open.

Your $20 at either point buys you a three-day entrance, as it is just too much park (and too much driving) to be done in one day. Park entrance is also free on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, National Park Week in April, National Park Service’s Birthday week and National Public Lands day in September, and Veterans Day.

5. Haleakala Activities.

There is an unlimited number of things to do, including sightseeing, walks, organized downhill bike rides, and even horseback. Naturalists will enjoy unique Hawaii flora and fauna. Star watching is unequaled, being above one-third of the earth’s atmosphere. This is also the home to Hawaii’s first astronomical research observatory.

6. Maui Weather at Haleakala National Park.

You can expect the weather to be extreme within the park. This is not a joke and should be taken seriously. On our last visit, at 5 pm, the temperature at the summit was a very brisk 45 degrees. Bundle up – you’re likely to need every bit of clothing that you have.

8. Tips for the park.

Bring food and have gas. Those aren’t available at the park.
Carry water and sunscreen, and wear sturdy shoes.
You can pay the entrance fee with a credit card.

9. More information.

The National Park Service has more on its Haleakala website.

Lead photo courtesy of NPS. Photo above © Beat of Hawaii.

Updated 3/8/22.

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21 thoughts on “Haleakala, Crown Jewel on Maui”

  1. Last visit to Maui was in 2009. Apparently, so much has changed!
    Thank you for the updates, as we’ll be heading back to Maui in late ‘22.
    Also, are there Senior Rates for park passes?
    Mahalo, and A Hui Hou!

  2. I watched the sunrise at Haleakala but didn’t get to see the sunset. However I was able to see a full moon while while waiting for the sunrise. It was like I could reach out and touch it. Definitely worth the time to go visit. Breathtaking and something that still brings tears to my eyes as I think about it several years later. A wonderful memory!

  3. Thank you for the update! I’m a resident of Hawai’i, currently traveling on the mainland. Within the past two weeks, I’ve visited national parks in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. EVERY park has had an open visitors center. The number of people is limited, so sometimes you have to wait outside for a few minutes before entering. And of course, masks are required indoors. There’s NO reason why the national parks in Hawai’i can’t open their visitors centers under the same parameters.

  4. Hey Beat of Hawaii!
    Thank you so much for your great work! Your information is so helpful. I am not sure if you have any advice, but we have reservations for October at the Maui Marriott for our family, but we are a little hesitant to purchase airline tickets as we understand that things could still shift with Covid. At this time, are you encouraged that things will be “fully open” for tourism in October (so look for good deals to purchase tickets) or do you have concerns that things to be a challenge this Fall still? I understand there is an element that no one knows, but any thoughts are much appreciated!

    1. Hi Jeff.

      We don’t have any thoughts on how this fall will look. Everything seems to point in the right direction, so we remain optimistic.

      Aloha.

  5. Such great advice to go for the sunset, we went for sunrise and all we saw was fog, thank heavens we biked down afterwards, the view and experience were unforgettable. I’d love to go back after reading this but will also watch the webcam now! Thanks!

  6. Amazing and Beautiful!! It’s a brisk (pun intended) and welcome change from the more downtrodden economic issues of today. I look forward to breaking out my flying camera and getting videos of some of the awesome areas that can be viewed from the air. Unfortunately National Parks are not one of them, but I will still get some great shots from the ground, in these areas! Looking forward to filming the secrets and beauty of Hawaii, when I can get back to it, guys!

    Thanks for giving us an upbeat picture, Rob & Jeff! We absolutely 💖 this! Maui is one of our favorite places to be for our actual vacations…🤙

      1. Yeah! Working on staying healthy…as long as we all do (and they lift the pesky quarantine), it will be sooner, rather than later!

        Have a Great Week, Guys!

  7. Mahalo Beat of Hawai’i for everything you do for everyone.

    I’m thankful for your site and thankful for your new guidelines.

    Much Aloha to everyone out there, now and always.

    Stay safe and always remember that we’re all blessed to be able to enjoy this awesome world, whether in person or through photos.

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