Maui’s Highest Point: Haleakala Crater


Outdoorsy types will definitely want to visit Haleakala Crater, the remnants of Maui’s largest dormant volcano. Locally known as “the Mountain,” Haleakala is accessible via horseback, mountain biking and hiking trails. Also, there may not be a better place to watch the sunrise than from Haleakala Crater.

Sunrise from atop "The Mountain." CC Image courtesy of Collin Grady on Flickr.

Recreational Opportunities

Halekala has over 30 miles of trails for horseback riding and hiking leading up the mountain and into the Crater. While climbing up the mountain, you have views of the Pacific and Maui’s Upcountry.

Horseback Riding Excursions
Horseback riding is a much easier method for ascending and descending Haleakala. The horseback riding tour guides, who are usually Hawaiian cowboys, or paniolos, know the area extremely well and will get you in and out of the Crater in an efficient manner.

Hiking Haleakala
More ambitious outdoorsy types may try to tackle the grueling slopes of Haleakala. Intermediate to advanced expertise is necessary for climbing the Mountain, especially at the steep, uphill segments of the trail. The best trail descending into the Crater is Sliding Sands, which is a doable trail for intermediate hikers.

Sunrise at Maui’s Highest Peak

Ask anyone who has been to Haleakala in the wee hours of the morning and they will tell you the Mountain is the best place in Maui to see sunrise. Having said that, a trip up the Mountain for the Sunrise is much more pleasant if you are adequately prepared.

Dress Warmly
The first thing to know is temperatures at the top of Haleakala are about 30 degrees colder than at the base of the mountain. So wear a jacket or windbreaker for your early ascent up Haleakala.

Timing is Key…
The winding Haleakala Crater Road runs from the Haleakala Highway (Hawaii Highway 37) to the summit. However, the trip is approximately two hours so make sure you leave in time. Also, do not leave right after sunrise. Stick around for about 20 minutes after sunrise you will be treated to a colorful show only the dawn is able to present.

…So is Eating!
Make sure you prepare a proper breakfast before going up the mountain. Two hours up means a two hour trip back down the mountain and Haleakala does not have any restaurants at this time.

Halekala National Park

The Crater is only part of the greater Haleakala National Park, a 30,000-acre national park in the heart of Maui’s Upcountry. If you are seeking information on the area while on the mountain, Haleakala has two visitor centers on the mountain. Park Headquarters is 7,000 feet above sea level and Haleakala — where you park to see sunrise — is perched at over 9,700 feet above sea level.

1) National Park Service: Haleakala National Park

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