Haleakala National Park and Rainbows, Maui

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It’s more than brisk on the top of Maui.

Even if you’re driving on a hot afternoon from one of the fabulous beaches, be prepared for the cold at the summit of the Haleakala volcano. It is a bone-chilling, Montana at -10F, kinda of cold. Hiking pants, a fleece, and a windbreaker weren’t enough to keep this wimp from shivering in the high winds. One more layer and a wool hat might have done the trick. That and had we remembered the gloves we purposefully packed for this trek. Ah, well.

Speaking of Montana, Route 378 felt similar to the lovely Beartooth Highway with its gentle winding turns and occasional tight hairpins. Back and forth you weave your way up to the 10,023-foot elevation.

If you’re fortunate, you’ll see a stunning rainbow—and a twin—the entire drive up and down. The road takes you partially through cattle land, so be observant. We were stopped in one place by a cow jam, but they politely decided to move aside for us.

The summit.

There is a visitor’s station before the top and a small information and shelter once you’re there. Even if you are a stout hiker, keep in mind the altitude and the distance from medical assistance. You’re on your own, so carry food and water.

The area is stunning in such a different way from The Kilauea Caldera at Volcanoes National Park on The Big Island. There, a vibrant orange center continually boils in a vast space of empty. But here, the “crater” is really formed by the convergence of two valleys and a glance around convinces you that you’ve landed on Mars.

The colors are striking in their depth from one hue to another. The blues seemed bluer, the red the color of a bright fire and the hidden glimpse of pink and green plants a treasure. Make sure you’re really seeing what’s in front of you…compartmentalize it then build it back together again into a panoramic that will stay with you long after you descend.

Sunrise.

There is a Haleakala Sunrise event that requires reservations. We’ve had some friends do this (and arrange to bicycle down), but arriving at the summit between 3:00a.m. and 7:00a.m. wasn’t on our list of fun things to do. The requirements to make this drive change on February 1st, so make sure to pop onto the website and read before making this a high point of your trip. Keep in mind that this cost is separate from the Park entrance fee—which is paid on site and only by credit card.

When walking in the area, make sure you stay on the path (as challenging as they are to follow in places) because the eco-system is quite fragile. One of the short strolls was comfortable enough going up, but at the top, the wind soared over and guess what? Right back to that biting cold.

The Haleakala Observatories are located here, in part because they sit one-third above the Earth’s atmosphere. Amazing, right?  Too bad they are not open to the public.

You can also stay up here after dark and see a vast span of starlit sky—sometimes from summit to ocean over a hundred miles away.

Places to stop.

Just before the turn into Haleakala National Park, you’ll find the Kula Lodge & Restaurant. We highly recommending stopping and admiring the views—especially if you luck into a day without rain. The terrace is an engineering feat with the table layouts and the pizza oven is huge.

A related drive had us staying on Route 37 instead of bearing left onto 377 toward the Park. Rounding one corner, we were assaulted with the heavenly aromas from the nearby Maui Lavender Farm, even with the windows closed.

On this stretch of highway, you’ll find a coffee shop, winery, and restaurant. We sampled fare at Grandma’s coffee, Ulupalakua Ranch Store (venison as well as beef) and Maui (Tedeschi) Wine.

Is the Haleakala Crater worth the drive and the frigid walk? You betcha’. Click To Tweet

24 Responses

  1. Nate
    | Reply

    How beautiful the place is, cloud kissing Mt. Maui lol. Added to my bucket lit. 🙂

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Great way to describe it, Nate. If you have time, look at the photos from Kaui on my blog–big dragonflies in the clouds. Amazing sight.

  2. Sushmita
    | Reply

    Omg, it’s lovely, the images are spectacular. A road trip accompanied by hiking seems a lovely plan must have been fun 🙂 I too need to go for something similar soon
    Sushmita recently posted..Personal Branding Tips for Introverts you need to know!My Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Any trip connected to some hiking is a good trip for me. Hope you get to do some soon!

  3. William Rusho
    | Reply

    Those pictures are specular. Clouds moving across mountains always impress me.
    I often wondered one thing about Hawaii. If it beautiful, gorgeous, the weather is great, you got mountains to hike, and beaches to swim, there is entertainment and culture, nature, and cities. If you lived there, WHERE WOULD YOU GO FOR A VACATION?
    William Rusho recently posted..Surviving A Long Winter in Medieval EuropeMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Ha ha, William! We’ll have to ask Marquita where she chose to take her vacations when she lived on Maui!

      Clouds & mountains–you’re right–that always captivates me.

  4. cheryl
    | Reply

    I have never been there. Your photos are beautiful. They make me want to visit. Very nice!
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    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Glad to hear that I could entice you to have Hawaii on your list, Cheryl.

  5. Doreen Pendgracs
    | Reply

    Lovely post, Rose. It is FAR too long since I have seen Haleakala. Such a magical place! I hope Maui is on my foreseeable horizon.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..Swiss chocolate travel to VeveyMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      I hope you get back there soon, too, Doreen. It was other-worldly–I think I keep repeating that phrase.

  6. Marquita Herald
    | Reply

    Of course, I agree with you, Haleakala is well worth the drive. As beautiful as it is at the summit, it truly is like another world when you’re hiking around in the crater. I’ve hiked through 6 times and while it’s always amazing, the hike going out Kaupo Gap is my clear favorite. It’s far more challenging because of the rough terrain and steep decline (not to mention the wild pigs!), but the views are absolutely breathtaking. And because Kaupo is so remote you have to arrange to have someone drive around to the back of the Island and pick you up. The last couple of miles on the way out we’d be totally fixated on the ice cold beer waiting for us in the back of that truck! Ah, great memories! Thanks RoseMary. 🙂
    Marquita Herald recently posted..Beyond Uncertainty Lies a World of PossibilitiesMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      I so admire you for hiking the valley of Haleakala, Marquita! We just weren’t prepared for cold weather hiking. Love the way you finish up a hardy trek. 🙂

  7. Mina Joshi
    | Reply

    Wow what a stunning place to visit. Loved looking at all your photographs.

  8. Phoenicia
    | Reply

    A road trip plus hiking – how exciting! You were definitely made for the outdoors.
    The photographs you took are simply breathtaking – I presume you have a state of the art camera and have mastered being behind the lens.

    How many joined you for the Haleakala event?

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      I love being outdoors, Phoenicia–one of the reasons Wales is so appealing!
      Glad you like the photographs–we use a simple Nikon Coolpix, but it does wonders.
      At that time there were less than a dozen people at the summit. Quiet and lonely.

  9. Jeri
    | Reply

    Hawaii is on my list of places I might someday make it to. I can definitely relate to your descriptions of bone-chilling Montana weather as well as the Beartooth Highway. I’ve been thinking of heading to Yellowstone this summer and would like to fit that drive in again.
    Jeri recently posted..#EditTip: Narrative Distance and Filter WordsMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Jeri, if you plan a trip to Yellowstone and include Red Lodge on it, let me know–it’d be one more great reason for me to get back to my favorite western town.

      You’d love the Kaui hiking we did. Oh yeah!

  10. Diana LoPresti
    | Reply

    So fun to see those pictures. …10 years this May since our honeymoon there…time goes way too fast!

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      It sure does go fast, Diana! I was thinking of you two while we were taking it all in. So beautiful.

  11. Ken Dowell
    | Reply

    Stunning is indeed the right word for Haleakala. I didn’t do the sunrise trip either. Nor did I bike down, I went mid-morning and mostly just stared out at the sight before me .
    Ken Dowell recently posted..Who Was America’s Worst President?My Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Good word, Ken: stunning.
      it’s a haunting and eerie place that is also beautiful at the same time. Loved seeing it.

  12. Susan Cooper
    | Reply

    I’ve been there. What an amazing place. The views are mesmerizing. It’s hard to truly capture the beauty of the place with going there.
    Susan Cooper recently posted..Quick Rice Pudding: #RecipeMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Haleakala is absolutely other-worldly. Yep–we should all see it in person, Susan!

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