HALEAKALA, Hawaii -- A drive to the top of this 10,000-foot volcano
and a hike into its barren crater offers a great reminder of just
how diverse Maui is.
At the point of ascent on Haleakala Highway near Kahului, an
hour-and-a-half from the summit, sprawls a lush tropical Pacific
island. At the top, the rocky, red cinder-cone landscape sits a
The only plant likely to be seen there is the hearty
On a clear, sunny day at the summit, the visitor can see the Big
Island and its five volcanos. At other times, Haleakala is windy,
cold and rainy, and the sky is filled with clouds, limiting
According to the park service, on a clear day the visual horizon
in many places on the volcano is up to 115 miles out to sea. And
the park is never closed, not even at night, so Haleakala also is a
good place to watch stars.
For tourists, visiting Haleakala will take some planning before
leaving home because of the wide range in temperatures.
At 10,000 feet, it can be warm, or it can be cold -- between 30
and 50 degrees, with winds up to 40 mph.
Visitors who want to go to Haleakala (whose name means House of
Sun) should bring long pants and a jacket, especially if they are
planning to be there for the sunrise.
Visitors can call (808) 871-5054 for a weather forecast.
There is no food or gasoline available in the park, so visitors
should be sure to stock up on both.
Visiting the mountain can easily be done in a rental car or with
one of the tour companies on Maui.
Many of the tour companies bring visitors to the summit for the
They pick them up at their hotels as early as 3 a.m.
Those who visit on their own will have to pay a $10 per car
For those who want to do more than drive to the top and take
pictures, there are plenty of hiking opportunities.
About 10 miles before the crater summit on the slopes of the
volcano and just before the park headquarters is Hosmer Grove.
From there, the free Waikamoi Cloud Forest Hike begins at 9
a.m., Mondays and Thursdays.
Led by park service guides, this three hour, three-mile hike
wanders through the Nature Conservancy's Waikamoi Preserve.
Farther up the road about a mile is the park headquarters, which
is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
There is also a visitor's center at the summit.
From the summit, which is about nine miles from park
headquarters, the Sliding Sands trail leads four miles into the
crater, linking up with other trails that will keep even the most
hardcore day-hiker satisfied.
Hikers should expect the walk back to the parking lot to take
two times as long as the hike down. And at elevations of 9,000 to
10,000 feet, walking can be difficult.
In addition to self-guided hiking opportunities, the park offers
visitor programs and guided hikes at the summit.
Also, 15- to 20-minute educational presentations are given daily
in the summit building at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
There is a guided cinder-desert hike on Tuesdays and Fridays at
This hike, which starts at the Sliding Sands trailhead at the
end of the visitor center parking lot, is two miles long and takes
about two hours.
A liter bottle of water per person is a must for any hike of
more than an hour.
In the summit area, special evening star-watching programs are
conducted in the summer months.
Occasionally, all-day and half-day hikes or full-moon hikes are
Call (808) 572-9306 for current guided hike schedules.
Also, call (808) 572-4400 for visitor information or check the
Web at www.nps.gov/hale.