Camping in Haleakala National Park
Best Maui Camping
There are lots of ways to explore Haleakala National Park, but if your idea of the perfect experience includes spending a day or two exploring, watching the stars twinkle, and communing with nature, then camping is the way to go. And while Haleakala’s camping spots run the gamut from easy drive-up access to hiking-heavy rustic conditions, one thing is guaranteed- a night spent in the House of the Sun is a night you’ll not soon forget.
Haleakala National Park Drive-Up Camping
Looking for a family-friendly escape without having to carry loads of gear? Eager to simply unpack the car, pitch the tent, and enjoy? Then Haleakala’s drive-up camping locations are your best bet. Note that the two sites are located in two very distinct areas of the park, which means you can expect a different experience at each spot. Free campground space in each location is on a first-come, first-served basis; no permits are needed and reservations are not accepted. Each location has BBQ grills, picnic tables, and pit toilets, but there are no showers, food, or gas, so be sure to prepare accordingly.
Hosmer Grove Campground
Hosmer Grove lies in the cool- and sometimes very cold- region of Haleakala’s cloud belt, at just under 7,000 ft. Here in the summit area, rain, cold temperatures, and wind are commonplace, so be sure to have everything you’ll need to ward off discomfort. Daytime high temperatures average 50-65°F, but it’s not uncommon for nighttime temperatures to drop to near freezing.
The campsites here are relatively close together in an open grassy field right near the wooded areas of Hosmer Grove. This means that you’ll enjoy plenty of native birds and their songs in the early dawn hours, making for a great hike along the Hosmer Grove Loop Trail.
Hosmer Grove can accommodate 50 people and leashed dogs are welcome. If you’re planning a late night, this might not be the best location, however, as most people turn in early in order to beat the Haleakala sunrise crowds.
This site is located just a short walk from the Oheo Gulch, also known as “Seven Sacred Pools”-- a lovely series of freshwater pools and waterfalls that make for some great hiking with stunning coastal views. It’s also conveniently located just about 1/8 of a mile south of the Kipahulu Visitor Center. Rain showers are common here, as are mosquitos and harsh sunshine, so be sure to plan and pack for conditions.
Kipahulu Campground features BBQ grills, picnic tables, and pit toilets. There is no water, but drinking water is available at the Visitor Center restrooms. If you need some basic supplies, drive about 10 miles into Hana town for the essentials.
Kipahulu Campground can accommodate a maximum of 100 people, and leashed dogs are welcomed.
Haleakala National Park Hike-In Wilderness Camping and Cabins
Looking for a more immersive Haleakala camping experience? Anxious to really “get away from it all” and have a rugged backcountry adventure? If so, head to the hike-in wilderness campgrounds and cabins for an authentic hiking adventure. Note that all three locations are remote- adventurers must be ready for lots of hiking and must be prepared. More specifically, first aid, supplies, and help in the event of an emergency can be several hours away. Additionally, expect high winds, the effects of high elevation, heavy rains, and freezing temperatures.
Campsites are primitive and permits are required. Guests are limited to a maximum stay of 3 nights per 30-day period, with no more than 2 nights at any one campsite.
Each cabin has a pit toilet, propane stove, basic cooking supplies and dishes, and a wood-burning stove with limited firewood. At times of drought, cookware will be removed and you must carry in all your water.
Located at 6,940 ft., Holua is nestled in the shrubland near Koolau Gap and is the shortest hike into one of the wilderness campsites, at 3.7 miles down the Halemauu Trail or 7.4 miles down the Keoneheehee (Sliding Sands) Trail.
Guests can enjoy day hikes into the central wilderness area that covers the lava flows.
At 6,380 ft. lies Paliku, right at the east end of the wilderness valley at the base of a rain forest cliff. The site is accessible by way of a strenuous 9.3-mile hike along Sliding Sands Trail, 8.6 miles up the Kaupo Trail, or 10.1 miles up the Halemauu Trail.
Expect abundant clouds, fog, and rain, which make this location lush and cool. Paliku is also the perfect place to spot the nene, or Hawaiian goose.
Head 5.5 miles down Sliding Sands Trail or 7.3 miles from the Halemauu trailhead, and you’ll find Kapalaoa cabin at 7,250 ft.
Its location at the base of the cliffs on the south side of the valley makes it a good place to spot the endangered uau (Hawaiian dark-rumped petrel) in the spring and summer. Be sure to keep an eye out for rare silversword, as well.
As mentioned, the Haleakala Wilderness area is remote and the only thing predictable about the weather is its unpredictability. Below-freezing temperatures, heavy rain, high winds, steep trails with rocky and/or muddy conditions, and the effects of altitude can all adversely affect your hike if you are not thoroughly prepared.
Please refer to our Haleakala Camping Packing List to make sure you have everything you need to make your camping and hiking trip safe and fun.