About the Site
Haleakala National Park (2)  



The Mountain

The Crater

On the Mountain


Hosmer Grove





On the Mountain

One noteworthy feature of Haleakala National Park is the ease with which any visitor can ascend to the summit of this great mountain. The main road in the park allows the visitor to travel from sea level on Maui to over 10,000 feet in only 38 miles, one of the steepest climbs available to conventional traffic. Some of this rise occurs outside the park itself, as the entrance is situated at an altitude of 6740 feet.

Shown below is the last section of the road near the summit.

Most of the park's main visitor facilities are accessible from the summit road. In the picture below the rim visitor center can be seen perched along the edge of the crater at an altitude of 9745 feet. White Hill sits above the building to the right.

A close-up view of the House of the Sun visitor center along the crater's rim is shown below.

An unusual feature near the top of the mountain, but just outside the border of the national park, is Science City (below), looking like an outpost on another planet. This collection of scientific facilities contains astronomical equipment which takes advantage of the clear atmosphere to monitor transmissions from space-based satellites. It also contains telecommunications facilities.

The highest point on Haleakala is Red Hill or Pu'u 'Ula'ula. It is marked with a viewing shelter which provides an overview of the crater as well as spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and neighboring Hawaiian islands.

Below at right is Magnetic Peak (10,008 ft.), just south of the summit.

Despite Maui's sub-tropical location, the mountain is high enough that the summit receives occasional snow in the winter months. In fact, up to 4 feet of snow has been observed at the summit. Even in the summer the temperature may be cool in the evening and morning; in general, compared with the rest of Maui, the temperature is about 3 degrees cooler for every 1000 feet in altitude gain.

There are a number of peaks located along the rim and within the crater of Haleakala.

The main visitor center is located along main road not far inside the park entrance at about the 7000 foot level.

View From the Mountain

In addition to spectacular views of the crater itself the upper elevations in the park offer memorable panoramas of the island of Maui, the Pacific Ocean, and neighboring Hawaiian Islands. On a clear day the visitor can see for 130 miles at the summit. Below is a view looking toward the north across the island of Maui.

While the suns shines on the summit, there is often a layer of clouds around found between about 4000 and 8000 feet. These are formed by an inversion layer at this altitude which traps the moisture carried by the trade winds blowing west across the island.

The layer of white, fluffy clouds often makes the mountain feel like an island in a sea of white.

Some of the most spectacular views from the rim of Haleakala are toward the south in the direction of the island of Hawaii. As seen in the picture below, the great peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa (in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park) can be spied peeking above the clouds.

Hosmer Grove

One of the most unusual areas in the park, and one uncharacteristic of the native state of much of the park area, is Hosmer Grove. Located about 3500 feet below the summit and just inside the main entrance to the park, this forest features a number of non-native tree species such as Douglas fir, California redwood, and eucalyptus, some of which can be seen below.

The trees in the grove were planted in 1910 by forester Ralph Hosmer. Hosmer was experimenting to find trees which might be used to help in the preservation of the watershed and exploring the plausibility of forestry on the island. Hosmer selected faster growing species which might survive on the island. Below is a picture from the grove up towards the summit of the mountain.

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  • All photographs ©Patrick Holleran, Shannon Digital Imaging, 1994-2013

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