Escaping Winter's Chill

Stargazing at Haleakala National Park

Mount Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui, ascends from sea level to 10,000 feet in a breathtakingly scant ten miles. Haleakala offers one of the most easily accessible places on the planet to watch stars. You can rent a pair of 10x50 or 7x50 binoculars at one of the island dive shops, pick up a star map at Park Headquarters or Haleakala Visitor Center, and discover what you may.

When you get to the top, the air is clear and the heavens are close. How you get to the top is up to you. Haleakala is the only place in the world where you can drive on a paved road from sea level to over 10,000 feet in less than 38 miles. Or you can hike in the summit area. The crater has two wilderness campgrounds (reservations required). Make your base camp at one of them, and hike to the summit after nightfall. Full-moon hikes are especially recommended.

Other activities: The dramatic change in elevation means that the sturdy hiker can move through a wide range of environments—from ocean to rainforest to arid crater—over a short span. The Kuapo Gap, which descends 6,100 feet over 8.4 miles, provides perhaps the most extreme view of the rapid transitions on the island.

Driving is also a pleasure, both on the park roads and off. The Hana Highway, which skirts the base of Mount Haleakala, is legendary for its breathtaking views of rugged coastline, waterfalls, volcanic landscapes, rainforest, and beaches.

More on Hiking at Haleakala National Park

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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