Haleakala Summit Area Attractions
Visitor Center, Trailheads, and Overlooks
Whether you’re exploring the fascinating Haleakala National Park by hiking, driving, or on a tour, knowing the summit stops is key to planning for a great adventure. Here you’ll find the summit stops listed in ascending order per elevation, as well as a brief overview and the amenities and features of each location. Remember, with a little preparation your Haleakala adventure is sure to be simply spectacular.
Haleakala Summit Area Tips
Please remember that it’s a bit difficult to make sweeping generalizations about how you should prepare for your summit journey. For example, someone who is planning a hard-core hike is going to have a much different experience than someone who is taking a guided tour. That said, there are some important points to keep in mind before you head out.
First, there is no food, gas, or water sold in the park, so be sure to take anything you may need with you (unless your tour provides it, of course). Also, the summit area is a sun-intense, shade-free environment. Always carry water, sunscreen, and appropriate clothing. Aside from the sun, heavy rain showers can pop up seemingly without notice and temperatures can vary from 30-80°F (0-27°C), all on the same day.
If you’ll be hiking, be aware that you will be exploring a wilderness area and will be solely responsible for your own safety. If you plan to camp overnight, permits are required for overnight trips into the wilderness area and can be obtained at the Headquarters Visitor Center. Please check the NPS website for more detailed information. While you’re there, be sure to look into the current interpretive programs being offered so you can make the most of your trip if you won’t be traveling with a professional guide.
If you’re looking for more in-depth information about the park’s history and attractions, be sure to check out our Haleakala National Park page.
Haleakala Summit Area Stops by Elevation
Elevation 6,750 ft. (2,059 m.)
Features: Picnic area, Hiking Trail, Drinking Water (fountain)
Located one mile below the Visitor Center you’ll find the turnoff into Hosmer Grove, where you can enjoy a short trail hike through the native shrubland. Birdwatchers will want to be on the lookout for any of the four types of honeycreepers that make their homes here.
The Supply Trail is also accessible from here and it leads uphill through the shrubland to meet up with the Halemauu Trail after 2.3 mi. (2.7 km.)
Headquarters Visitor Center
Elevation: 7,000 ft. (2,134 m.)
Features: Ranger Station, Wheelchair Accessible, Restrooms, Picnic Area, Public Telephone, Drinking Water
For most park visitors, this is their first stop up the summit and is the place to go for general park information, permits, interpretative program information, and flush toilets.
The Visitor Center offers a wealth of park information- stop by and ask them anything!
Also, know that the Hawaii Natural History Association- a non-profit organization that supports Haleakala National Park- offers a nice selection of books and fun souvenirs for sale, so be sure to support their efforts.
If you plan to explore the summit on a bike tour, stop by for current trail conditions, safety information, and any necessary permits. And, if you are exploring with kids, pick up the Junior Ranger booklet which has lots of great park information for the littlest adventurers.
*Photo by Jinyoung Jeon/Google Images
Elevation: 7,990 ft. (2,436 m.)
Features: Hiking Trail, Restrooms
The Halemauu Trail begins here and makes its way through shrubland and some spectacular views of the valley rim before it winds down into the wilderness area. Many backpackers make this their starting point, as overnight parking is available. Just make sure you have obtained any necessary permits for your overnight adventure.
Halemauu Trailhead also serves as the ending point for the 11.2 mi. (18 km) hike that begins at the Keoneheehee Trailhead about 7 miles up the road. Note that Haleakala National Park does not offer shuttles for hikers, but there is a “hiker pick up” spot here. You can park across the road and follow the short path to the designated pull-off location. There, another park visitor can give you a ride to the Haleakala Visitor Center so you can begin your trip. Note that getting a ride in the morning is much easier than in the afternoon, as fewer visitors are heading up then.
Elevation: 8,840 ft. (2,694 m.)
Features: Hiking Trail
Across the road from the parking lot, you can head out on a very short (0.5 mi./0.8 km.) round-trip hike that takes you to a wind shelter with impressive views of the cinder cones and cliffs of the wilderness area.
The ecosystem here is unique, as sub-alpine shrubland and alpine cinder desert meet in this area and host many unusual native species. Keep an eye out for rare insects, plants, and an endangered burrowing seabird known as the uau or Hawaiian petrel, which emits an almost eerie-sounding call upon returning to its nest.
As with all areas of the park, be sure to stay on marked trails only, as many threatened and delicate species make their homes here.
Haleakala Visitor Center
Elevation: 9,740 ft. (2969 m.)
Features: Ranger Station, Wheelchair Accessible, Restrooms, Water
The Visitor Center here is a small stone building perched right at the edge of a cliff and has been welcoming park visitors since 1936. Park staff are on hand from sunrise to 3 pm daily to help you plan your Haleakala visit and answer any questions. Make sure to ask about any interpretive programs that may be offered while you’re there.
Just a few steps from the Visitor Center you’ll find the Pa Kaoao Trail, which leads 100 ft. (30 m.) up to an overlook with a remarkable view. Be sure to walk slowly up the .4 mi. (.6 km) trail, as the change in altitude, is very noticeable!
On the opposite end of the parking lot, you’ll find the trailhead of Keoneheehee (Sliding Sands) Trail, which can serve as a starting point for a leisurely stroll or a strenuous 3-day backpacking trip.
Puu ulaula Summit
Elevation: 10,023 ft. (3,055 m.)
Features: Wheelchair Accessible
Haleakala’s highest point, Puu ulaula Summit, offers extraordinary 360-degree views of the seemingly otherworldly Haleakala landscape. Plus, it’s one of the best places in the world for stargazing, enjoying the sunset, and watching the clouds change before your eyes.
Be sure to look for the rare Hawaii silverswords that grow here, which can take up to 50 years to bloom and then die. Viewing them is most certainly a unique opportunity.
Elevation: 9,324 ft. (2,842 m.)
The Kalahaku Overlook is the perfect place to enjoy a beautiful birds-eye view of Haleakala’s crater floor and the silversword plants, as well. Note that it is only accessible when heading down the mountain, so please do not attempt to turn into the overlook on your way up, as the curve is extremely dangerous.
From the parking lot, you’ll have lovely views down the mountain, or you may take the stairs to a different vantage point and admire the cinder cones. If conditions are clear, you just might be fortunate enough to spot the Big Island’s Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa-- 85 and 100 mi. (137 and 169km) away, respectively-- to the south-southeast.
Protect Haleakala’s Inhabitants
We cannot emphasize this enough: Haleakala is home to some of the world’s rarest and most endangered plant and animal species. It is also a place where many sensitive cultural sites can be found. Please do your part to protect and preserve Haleakala’s ancient and living treasures for generations to come by treading only on the marked trails throughout the park. Not only is it the right thing to do- it’s also the law.