Haleakala Crater & Maui Upcountry
So here’s the deal: everyone says to do the Haleakala summit at sunrise. Yes, it’s beautiful. But you need to be out of bed by 3am! No thanks. I hear sunset is just as beautiful. However, since it was our last day, we just made a mid-morning trip.
Driving south on the Haleakala Highway you can gradually see that you are gaining elevation. Then you begin a series of switchbacks through beautiful green hills until you come to the park entrance. If you visited the Kipahula section of the park (Pipiwai Trail and ‘Ohe’o Gulch–save your receipt! Entrance is good for 3 days.).
Then you pass by the park headquarters visitor center. Nope, you’re not actually at the top yet! It’s still another 10 miles through some steep switchbacks. This is where the landscape starts to become barren, but beautiful.
Then you’re at the summit. 10,023 feet! The views are amazing! It’s otherworldly. It looked like we were on Mars! There are some trails around the summit for hiking. Be forewarned: the high elevation may cause shortness of breath in some people.
You feel like you’re at the top of the world. On a clear day, you’re above the clouds. You can even see the blue Pacific Ocean below.
The funny part? We commented how much of Hawaii was “insect-free.” Well, that’s because they were all at the Haleakala summit! We were inundated by thousands upon thousands of flying insects. They didn’t bite, but were all over our bodies, our clothes, and the inside and outside of our car!
After the summit, we continued through Upcountry Maui. Had a great lunch in Kula at the Kula Bistro and then continued on to the winery at Ulupalakua Ranch before it was time to go to the airport for our flight back to the mainland.
For more pics, check out my Flickr album.