The top 5 things to do at Haleakalā National Park


The highest point on Maui is Haleakalā, the 10,023-foot shield volcano that dominates the island’s east and is the centerpiece of Haleakalā National Park.

This remarkable terrain stretches from the vast, windswept summit crater to the pounding surf of the Kīpahulu coast. As the national park with the most endangered species in the country, Haleakalā is teeming with unique beauty.

Haleakalā, “house of the sun,” commands significance to locals and visitors alike with its many stirring sights. Here are 5 defining experiences of Haleakalā National Park.

Sunrise seen from Haleakala National Park

1. Catch the sunrise or sunset from the Haleakalā Crater rim

Haleakalā serves striking sunrises and sunsets from its top-of-the-world vantage point at the volcano’s summit rim. Watching the sun rise or fall from the mountaintop is one of Haleakalā's most popular activities, so arrive early. Reservations are required for sunup viewing, but not sunset.

Don't forget to bundle up; Haleakalā is over 10,000 feet above sea level. Also keep in mind that cloudy or rainy weather can scuttle the spectacle.

The night sky over Haleakala

2. Go stargazing

Sundown is a teaser for the afterhours show on Haleakalā. By nightfall, you'll be able to see a whole host of celestial objects, from the wispy garland of the Milky Way to Jupiter's shining moons.

You can rent binoculars and telescopes at numerous outlets on Maui, and the park headquarters and visitor centers carry star maps to help you navigate the skies. (Again, bundle up so you're prepared for the nighttime chill.)

Craters in Haleakala National Park

3. Backpack into the crater

Spending a few nights in the Haleakalā backcountry is probably the closest you'll get to feeling like you're on the moon. Trekking across the yawning crater, you’ll find yourself surrounded by ethereal landscapes that seem nearly lunar, dotted with rare silversword plants and rainforest cliffs farther east.

Armed with the proper permit, you can either pitch a tent at designated campsites or stay at 1 of 3 historic backcountry cabins. 

A red ‘i‘iwi

4. Explore the flora & fauna of the Hosmer Grove

The Hosmer Grove nature trail that runs along the park's northwestern boundary is canopied by non-native trees including Douglas fir, eucalyptus, pine, and deodar cedar. In 1910, a forester named Ralph Hosmer brought these species from Australia, India, Japan, and the mainland U.S., trying to revive the local timber industry. 

You might spot native birds like the red ‘i‘iwi and other honeycreepers while strolling through Hosmer Grove. Some of these species may be threatened or endangered. Walk slowly and listen carefully—you might be lucky enough to see them fly by.

Waimoku Falls

5. Visit the Kīpahulu District

Haleakalā National Park’s far southeast constitutes the Kīpahulu District, 12 miles past Hāna and reachable via the Hāna Highway. Vastly different from the summit area, Kīpahulu offers lush rainforest gorges and wave-hammered volcanic headlands. Sharp-eyed visitors may also spot wildlife including great black frigatebirds and spouting humpbacks.

Many flock to the “Seven Sacred Pools” of 'Ohe'o Gulch, but don’t miss the Pīpīwai Trail, a 4-mile round-trip trek up the namesake stream. Along the way you’ll pass the 200-foot Makahiku Falls, a giant banyan tree, and a dark bamboo grove before reaching the big finale: the 400-foot cascade of Waimoku Falls, streaming down a cliff.

Check park conditions before visiting: Conditions at National Parks can change without notice. Be sure to check the latest information about conditions on the Haleakalā National Park website when planning a trip.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks AAA map cover

Let AAA help you plan your National Parks visit

Take advantage of AAA's road trip resources, including free printed maps1, digital TourBook guides, pre-planned road trips, and the TripTik® Travel Planner interactive road trip planning tool.

A AAA Travel advisor

Travel with AAA

Whether you're looking to book a stay near Haleakalā National Park, rent a car for your trip, or reserve a guided National Parks tour package, see how AAA can help you plan, book, and save on your next vacation.

Travel offers & deals

" "

Hot travel deals

Get the latest offers from AAA Travel’s preferred partners.

" "

Travel with AAA

See how we can help you plan, book, and save on your next vacation.

" "

Entertainment savings

Save big with AAA discounts on tickets to your next adventure.

" "

Travel with confidence

Purchase travel insurance with Allianz Global Assistance.

back to top icon