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A Night on Haleakala

Updated on December 15, 2014

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 Crater
Haleakala Crater

Haleakala Facts

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

We found a rainbow on the way to get our camping permit
We found a rainbow on the way to get our camping permit
Haleakala Hiking Trail
Haleakala Hiking Trail

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

The Trial into the Crater
The Trial into the Crater

Flowers Growing in the Lava Field

Flowers Growing in the Lava Field
Flowers Growing in the Lava Field
Haleakala Sunrise
Haleakala Sunrise

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...

A Nene, Hawaii's National Bird, at Sunrise

A Nene, Hawaii's National Bird, at Sunrise
A Nene, Hawaii's National Bird, at Sunrise

Pictures from the Hike

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Camping at the level of the cloudsWe got a rainbow on our ascent out of the crater!The sun sets early in the crater, a massive shadow kept growingSunset from the view above the cloudsSunrise on Haleakala.The Holua CampsiteThe Descent is done!  We've reached the crater floor.Halemanu Trail headNo campfires are allowed on Haleakala, the climate is very dry.
Camping at the level of the clouds
Camping at the level of the clouds
We got a rainbow on our ascent out of the crater!
We got a rainbow on our ascent out of the crater!
The sun sets early in the crater, a massive shadow kept growing
The sun sets early in the crater, a massive shadow kept growing
Sunset from the view above the clouds
Sunset from the view above the clouds
Sunrise on Haleakala.
Sunrise on Haleakala.
The Holua Campsite
The Holua Campsite
The Descent is done!  We've reached the crater floor.
The Descent is done! We've reached the crater floor.
Halemanu Trail head
Halemanu Trail head
No campfires are allowed on Haleakala, the climate is very dry.
No campfires are allowed on Haleakala, the climate is very dry.

Read about Haleakala

Shados on the cliff of Haleakala
Shados on the cliff of Haleakala

Would I do it again?

ABSOLUTELY!

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!

Views of the Haleakala Crater

Click thumbnail to view full-size
View of the Crater from a Helicopter ride we had the day before camping.View of the side of the volcano from a Helicopter ride we had the day before camping.
View of the Crater from a Helicopter ride we had the day before camping.
View of the Crater from a Helicopter ride we had the day before camping.
View of the side of the volcano from a Helicopter ride we had the day before camping.
View of the side of the volcano from a Helicopter ride we had the day before camping.

What did you think of my trip?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      sounds amazing! i'm planning on camping at haleakala but just at the main campground to get my bearings first. i'm curious if you used a 3, 3+ or 4 weather tent. thanks so much!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is wonderful. I went to the top of Haleakala at night when there was no moon in Aug. 09 and it was a life changing experience. My girlfriend was not to thrilled about going up there at 11:00 at night but when she got out of the car she is now hooked on this place. It looks like we are going back next year and booking only when there is NO moon. Incredible!

    • Morticella LM profile image

      Morticella LM 6 years ago

      very nice lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Beautiful lens

    • ColorPetGifts profile image

      ColorPetGifts 6 years ago

      LOved it- angel blessed.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 6 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Very cool!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Wow is an understatement!

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 6 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      Looks nice, does the Silversword plant looks as good in "real" as on the picture you used?? It looks so pretty.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I am in awe, you must have had a fantastic experience camping on the volcano.

    • JanieceTobey profile image

      JanieceTobey 6 years ago

      Wow! What an amazing trip! Haleakala is beautiful!

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 6 years ago

      That was a breathtaking trip :)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Have not been really close to the mountains in Hawaii as the beaches are so enticing...next time.

    • MisterJeremy profile image

      Jeremy 6 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      I've camped in Hawaii several times, but always at the beach. If I ever go back, I'll have to try camping in the mountains!

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 6 years ago from Scotland

      How wonderful!

    • blujeanmomma profile image

      blujeanmomma 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      I love the sunrise on Haleakala! A bit chilly in the morning but well worth it.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      What a beautiful place -- how fascinating to be 'above the clouds' Lovely photos. I've visited Oahu, but have never been to Maui - I've heard it's very beautiful.

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 6 years ago

      Beautiful Photos! :)

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      Great adventure and photos. I was in Maui and went to the top of Haleakula a month later (Feb 2009). Would have loved to have camped in the crater like you did. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • littlelu lm profile image

      littlelu lm 6 years ago

      great lens!! How exciting!

    • jgall34 lm profile image

      jgall34 lm 6 years ago

      Beautiful location, I have been camping before but never in Hawaii. You must have had a great time.

    • ICanCook profile image

      ICanCook 6 years ago

      I've always wanted to go camping but I am scared of sleeping outside and my husband is not kean on going with me. You are so very lucky. And never mind that it was in a crater! That's way too cool. Thank you for sharing.