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A Night on Haleakala
Camping on Haleakala
In January, 2009, my fiancé and I spent a night camping in the volcanic caldera of Haleakala on Maui, Hawaii. This journey of camping above the clouds and seeing the most spectacular starlit sky has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We hiked 3.7 miles down the Halemauu Trail (a descent of over 1000 feet) to the Holua campsite (6940 feet).
I hope that you will enjoy my photos and commentary as much as I enjoy sharing them with you!
Haleakala, located on the island of Maui, is the largest dormant volcano in the world. It hasn't erupted in over 200 years. Citizens of Maui have homes that are climbing further and further up the side of the volcano, so hopefully it won't erupt again! The crater is 7 miles across, 2 miles wide and 2600 feet deep.
Because the crater is above the cloud line and the absence of civilization lights, the summit of Haleakala is one of the best sites in the world for astronomic observations. (Source: Wikipedia)
We found a rainbow on the way to get our camping permit
The Descent into the Volcano
The Halemauu trail descends 1000 feet in 2.1 miles on a narrow trail full of switchbacks. I am not afraid of heights, but I don't love them because I'm terrified of falling. In contrast with other hiking experiences, having the descent first was a huge benefit. Going down took so much more mental effort as I checked my foot placement carefully so I wouldn't tumble over the edge of the cliff. (It was really fun when the park rangers came up with their donkeys and we had to stand near the edge to let them pass!)
You would expect that going up would take more time and be more physically demanding, but the opposite was true. Since I was so much less scared on the way up, I scrambled up the trail!
The Trial into the Crater
Camping on Haleakala Reesources
- Haleakala Wilderness Camping
All the information you need from the National Park Service about camping on Haleakala (The two campsites, the distance from different trailheads, permit information and more.)
- Haleakala Wilderness Cabins
Don't like tents but want to see the amazing sky above Haleakala? For $60-75/night you can stay in one of the wilderness cabins.
- Camping on Haleakala
Information from the Haleakala National Park about camping on the volcano.
- Haleakala National Park Review
See what someone else thinks.
Flowers Growing in the Lava Field
A Night on a Volcano
As we were on the floor of the crater, it got dark pretty early. We had been warm during the hike, but as soon as the sun went down, the temperature dropped substantially (as we had anticipated). I suppose this is why you should always hike with layers...
Stary Haleakala Nights
A Nene, Hawaii's National Bird, at Sunrise
Pictures from the HikeClick thumbnail to view full-size
Read about Haleakala
Would I do it again?
My only regret of this camping experience is that we only stayed one night! You are allowed stay up to 3 nights in the crater in any 30 day period. If we had another night we would have had more time to hike around the crater floor. (I didn't want to do too much hiking in the dark because I'm a fraidy cat.)
This was the most exciting camping trip I had ever gone on. It was worth lugging our gear all the way to Hawaii from Massachusetts!