Haleakalā National Park

Haleakalā National Park is an American national park located on the island of Maui in the state of Hawaii. Named after Haleakalā, a dormant volcano within its boundaries, the park covers an area of 33,265 acres (52.0 sq mi; 134.6 km2),[1] of which 24,719 acres (38.6 sq mi; 100.0 km2) is a wilderness area.[3] The land was designated a national park in 1976 and its boundaries expanded in 2005.[4]

Haleakalā National Park
Haleakalā 2017(3).jpg
Map showing the location of Haleakalā National Park
Map showing the location of Haleakalā National Park
Location within Hawaii
LocationMaui County, Hawaii, United States
Nearest cityPukalani
Coordinates20°43′0″N 156°10′0″W / 20.71667°N 156.16667°W / 20.71667; -156.16667Coordinates: 20°43′0″N 156°10′0″W / 20.71667°N 156.16667°W / 20.71667; -156.16667
Area33,265 acres (134.62 km2)[1]
EstablishedJuly 1, 1961
Visitors1,044,084 (in 2018)[2]
Governing bodyNational Park Service
WebsiteHaleakalā National Park


Haleakalā was originally part of Hawaii National Park along with the volcanoes of Mauna Loa and Kilauea on the island of Hawaiʻi, created in 1916. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park was made into a separate national park in 1961 by Bill S. 3623.[5] The park area was designated an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980.[6] The name Haleakalā is Hawaiian for "house of the sun." According to a local legend, the demigod Maui imprisoned the sun here in order to lengthen the day.[7] The Hawaiian National Park Language Correction Act of 2000 was proposed to observe the Hawaiian spelling, but it did not become law.[8]

The park features the dormant Haleakalā (East Maui) Volcano, which last erupted sometime between 1480 and 1600 AD.[9] The park is divided into two distinct sections: the summit area and the coastal Kipahulu area.

Haleakalā National Park has been a part of the Pacific West Region since its inception in 1961.


Location of Haleakalā National Park in the southeastern part of Maui Island
Detail map of Haleakalā National Park

An extremely winding but well maintained road leads up the mountain. The summit area includes Haleakalā Crater, the summit of the volcano, and the area surrounding the summit. This part of the park is accessed by Hawaii State Road 378. There is a visitor center, with parking and restrooms, near the summit. At the summit itself is another parking lot and a simple observatory without facilities.

Visitor center view at 9,740 feet (2,970 m)

The main feature of this part of the park is Haleakalā Crater which, despite its name, is geologically an erosional valley. It is 6.99 miles (11.25 km) across, 2.0 mi (3.2 km) wide, and 2,600 ft (790 m) deep. The interior of the crater is dotted by numerous volcanic features, including large cinder cones. Two main trails lead into the crater from the summit area: the Halemau'u and Sliding Sands trails. Hikers in the crater can stay in one of three cabins.

Visitors frequently come to the summit of the volcano to watch the sunrise and/or sunset. One attraction of the park is Hosmer's Grove, a unique forest of trees including deodar (Cedrus deodara) from the Himalayas, sugi (Cryptomeria japonica) from Japan, eucalyptus from Australia, and several species from North America (pine, spruce, cypress, fir, and others). Native plants and trees are also present in the forest but are not common due to the little light available (because of the taller alien trees).

The park is known for its volcanic features, its long scenic drive with numerous overlooks, and the unusually clear views of the night sky available. Haleakalā is one of the best places in the United States for amateur astronomy, and binoculars and telescopes are available for rent from many local merchants. Nēnē (Hawaiian geese, Branta sandvicensis) can also be seen in their natural habitat in Haleakalā Crater. Although nēnē died out entirely in the park, in 1946 they were re-introduced with the help of the Boy Scouts, who carried young birds into the crater in their backpacks.[10]


At its lowest, near the ocean, the National Park has a tropical rainforest climate bordering a tropical monsoon climate. However, as altitudes progresses the climate becomes oceanic/Mediterranean, reaching, at the very top of Haleakalā, an alpine climate.[11]

Climate data for Haleakalā Ranger Station, Hawaii, 1991-2020 normals, extremes 1940-present, altitude: 6,962 ft (2,122 m)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 78
Average high °F (°C) 61.0
Daily mean °F (°C) 52.5
Average low °F (°C) 43.9
Record low °F (°C) 29
Average precipitation inches (mm) 5.14
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.3 8.8 12.9 12.1 9.3 8.6 10.7 10.7 12.1 11.5 12.3 11.8 130.1
Source: NOAA[12][13]

Current issuesEdit

Environmental issuesEdit

Grazing and rooting feral goats and pigs have been destroying the native vegetation. They trample the ground and break down the native plants and cause soil erosion. Biodiversity has been compromised and is negatively affecting the groundwater reserve. [14]

Endangered NēnēEdit

The Nēnē bird is on the endangered species list. The bird was once on all the islands of Hawaii but now it is only on the Island of Hawaii and Kauai. Habitat loss, hunting, and introduction of mammals caused the bird population to dwindle.[15] Since 2010, only 2,000 birds were left. These birds were then kept in captivity to increase the population.


Haleakala silversword is a quintessential plant of Haleakalā since it only grows there and nowhere else on Earth. Climate change has been threatening the population of this plant due to hotter temperatures and lower rainfall. The park service has erected fences to prevent damage from local herbivores and from visitors taking the plants as souvenirs.[16]

Deferred MaintenanceEdit

As of the latest figures published by the NPS in 2018, Haleakalā National Park has a current deferred maintenance figure of $24,382,236. 49.8% of this number is from unpaved roads. The rest of the deferred maintenance cost range from trails, water systems, buildings, and campgrounds. To help combat this problem the Haleakalā friends group runs monthly service trips. This includes cleaning and scrubbing the cabins, the eradication of thistles, blackberries, and heterothecas. They also work on improving the nene habitat by removing invasive grass.


Kipahulu region, Haleakalā National Park

The second section of the park is the Kipahulu section. Visitors cannot drive directly to this section from the summit area; they must take a winding coastal road that travels around the windward coast of the island. This part of the park lies within the lower part of Kipahulu Valley. It is separated from the summit area of the park by the upper portion of the valley. This area is designated the Kipahulu Valley Biological Reserve and is closed to the public to preserve the native plant and animal species in this fragile rainforest.

This section of the park features more than two dozen pools along Palikea Stream in the gulch called ʻOheʻo. These pools contain rare native freshwater fish. Visitors may choose to swim in these pools, or they may choose to hike a trail that takes visitors up to the base of Waimoku Falls.

Flora and faunaEdit

More endangered species live in Haleakalā National Park than any other national park in the United States.[17] Once traveling to this part of the island became more frequent, native species were destroyed. One example is the ʻāhinahina (Haleakalā silversword, Argyroxiphium sandwicense macrocephalum), which formerly covered Haleakalā Mountain to a degree where the mountain looked as if it were covered with snow.[18] Other endangered species include the endangered Haleakalā schiedea (Schiedea haleakalensis).[19] Over 850 species of plants grow in the park and there are four endemic species of geraniums that are also found in the park.[20]

The park is home to many tardigrade species surviving in the extreme environment near the mountain summit. In the 1980s, local biologist Sam Gon III discovered 31 tardigrade species here and described Haleakalā as the "richest place on Earth for tardigrades".[21]

Haleakalā ObservatoryEdit

Haleakalā Observatory viewed from the Haleakalā visitor center

Haleakalā Observatory is an observation site located near the visitor center. It lies above the tropical inversion layer and so experiences excellent viewing conditions and very clear skies. For over 40 years, the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy has managed this site, conducting dedicated astrophysical experiments. One of its missions, the Maui Space Surveillance System (MSSS), tracks satellites and debris orbiting the Earth. The buildings are on a gated road just past the summit and are not within the park boundary.[22]

Superintendents of Haleakalā National ParkEdit

The first Superintendent of Haleakalā National Park was John Stratton. The current one is Natalie Gates, she has been in this position since 2013. Although, there is not a full list of Superintendents on public record, the following has been reported.

John W. Stratton 10/19/1961 - 5/11/1963

Neal G. Guse 7/01/1963 - 7/15/1967

Forrest M. Benson Jr. 8/27/1967 - 6/14/1969

Lynn H. Thompson 6/29/1969 - 11/16/1970

Russell Cahill 1/17/1971 - 4/27/1974

Hugo H. Huntzinger 5/26/1974 - 12/19/1987

Peter G. Sanchez 12/20/1987 - 3/26/1988

Donald W. Reeser 3/27/1988 -        ???


Sarah Creachbuam         2009 – 2012


Natalie Gates    3/2013- Present


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Listing of acreage – December 31, 2011" (XLSX). Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-07. (National Park Service Acreage Reports)
  2. ^ "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2019-03-07.
  3. ^ "The National Parks: Index 2009–2011". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
  4. ^ "Wilderness Connect". wilderness.net. Retrieved 2019-08-31.
  5. ^ "National Park Service: Historic Listings of NPS Officials". www.nps.gov. Retrieved Jun 4, 2020.
  6. ^ "Biosphere Reserve Information: United States of America: Hawaiian Islands". United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
  7. ^ Westervelt, WD (1910). "Legends of Maui: A Demi-God of Polynesia and His Mother Hina". sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
  8. ^ "Hawaiian National Park Language Correction Act of 2000 (2000 - S. 939)". GovTrack.us. Retrieved Jun 4, 2020.
  9. ^ "Youngest lava flows on East Maui probably older than A.D. 1790". 1999-10-04. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
  10. ^ Hurley, Timothy (2002-07-13). "Maui's Boy Scouts mark 40-year link to nene". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
  11. ^ Peterson, Adam (22 July 2016). "Köppen climate types of Hawaii". Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  12. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  13. ^ "Summary of Monthly Normals 1991-2020". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  14. ^ "Environmental Factors - Haleakalā National Park (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved Jun 4, 2020.
  15. ^ "Nēnē, the Hawaiian Goose - Haleakalā National Park (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2021-12-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ Makawao, Mailing Address: Haleakalā National Park PO Box 369; Us, HI 96768 Phone:572-4400 Contact. "Haleakala Silverswords - Haleakalā National Park (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved Jun 4, 2020.
  17. ^ "Issues". Friends of Haleakalā National Park. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  18. ^ "Silverswords of Hawaii". Hawaii Guide. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
  19. ^ Shiedea haleakalensis. The Nature Conservancy.
  20. ^ "Geraniums - Haleakalā National Park (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2021-12-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ Wianecki, Shannon (2016-08-21). "Hawaii's mysterious water bears". BBC. Retrieved 2016-09-11.
  22. ^ Maui Space Surveillance Site (MSSS)

External linksEdit