The Park Service has been working to increase physical access to the park in a phased reopening. 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, however, remain closed.
Well before C0vid, the 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.
The Pools of Oheo are also still closed. The primitive tent campgrounds within the crater and those at Paliku and Holua just reopened as of April 2021. Accessible only by trail, with reservations required via recreation.gov. Those can be made up to six months in advance.
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.
You can also enjoy Mount Haleakala virtually before you visit, including sunrise or sunset!
This is provided courtesy of the National Park Service’s Live Haleakala Crater Cam.
Then, when you do visit in person, 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.
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.