Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park

Hawaii / View all National Parks

In continuing with this year's crazy travelings, Tanya, Lily, and I took a little breather from all the chaos of LA and took off to Maui for a little beach vacation. I knew in the back of my mind that one of the two Hawaiian National Parks was in Maui, so it was an easy sell...Tanya was tired of doing cold place vacations.

Haleakala National Park is really two different parks in one.  The first is the seven mile across volcanic crater, a deep desert type pit in the middle of a huge 10,000 foot mountain that you can drive right up to.  The high-elevation, cold air, and non-stop switchbacks will make just about anyone's stomach turn over, so know that going into it.  You can see the mountain from all over Maui, but you'd never know it's a huge ready to blow volcano.  According to Wikipedia:

"Until recently, East Maui Volcano was thought to have last erupted around 1790, based largely on comparisons of maps made during the voyages of La Perouse and George Vancouver. Recent advanced dating tests, however, have shown that the last eruption was more likely to have been in the 17th century. These last flows from the southwest rift zone of Haleakal? make up the large lava deposits of the Ahihi Kina`u/La Perouse Bay area of South Maui. In addition, contrary to popular belief, Haleakal? "crater" is not volcanic in origin, nor can it accurately be called a caldera (which is formed through when the summit of a volcano collapses to form a depression). Rather, scientists believe that Haleakal?'s "crater" was formed when the headwalls of two large erosional valleys merged at the summit of the volcano. These valleys formed the two large gaps — Ko?olau on the north side and Kaup? on the south — on either side of the depression."

These big birds are called Nene, or Hawaiian Geese.  Haleakala National Park is their natural habitat and were completely killed off in the 1940's before the local Boy Scouts helped reintroduce them by carrying young birds up the volcano in their backpacks.  True story.

Haleakala National ParkHaleakala National ParkHaleakala National Park

On the opposite side of the mountain is the rainforest area complete with waterfalls and gorgeous lush scenery.  It's significantly more difficult to get to as it's a very slow drive in and out of the mountain crevices for much of the time.  Once you get there you can swim in the gorgeous Ohe'o Gulch (and pools) extending to the shoreline in the Kipahulu area.  There are even native freshwater fish that live in the pools.

You can see more of our Haleakala National Park work on our National Parks Photo Guide.

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