From the bottom to the top of 10,023-foot high Haleakala is a one hour and 15 minute drive. You'll be driving through our Upcountry region with its produce and flower farms, where you can see the many exotic proteas (below, right).The elevation at the summit is so high, that if you look closely out at the expanse of the ocean, you can see the slight curvature of our planet.
Haleakala, meaning “house of the sun,” has 13 observatories and many large telescopes at the top, all closed to the public. It is the clean air at this elevation that makes for good viewing, and also gives us some spectacular sunrises, a popular visitor activity. Sunsets are also great, though a long drive back to your hotel. And dress warmly, particularly during the winter, it's cold at this elevation.
There are several locations you can find to gaze into the caldera at the top, where you’ll view numerous cinder cones, lava outcroppings and unearthly colors (right). A sight that is nothing less than spectacular. There are also walking trails within the park. And for the hardy, trails leading down into the caldera itself. Check with the park rangers before making any lengthy hikes. The summit is within Haleakala National Park, and requires a $15 per car admission. NOTE: This national park at the summit and the Haleakala National Park at Kipahulu on the Road to Hana drive are the same park, so you can use your receipt from one to get into the other.
NOTE: After February 1, 2017, you need reservations to watch sunrise from the sumitt of Haleakala. Go to recreation.gov
Haleakala: House of the Sun