About Haleakalā National Park
Haleakalā National Park is on the eastern side of Maui, the second largest island in the Hawaiian chain. The park is characterized by starkly contrasting mountain and coastal environments. Within a few miles from the coast the park rises dramatically in elevation to 10,023 feet at the summit of the dormant Haleakalā Volcano. Moisture-bearing trade winds bring upwards of 400 inches of annual precipitation to windward mountain slopes, while some leeward areas only receive an average of 10 inches or less. Wind, rain, temperature, and altitude contribute to shape the widely diverse character and composition of the park’s natural ecosystems, microhabitats, and vegetation zones that transition from humid subtropical lowlands, cloud forests, to sparsely vegetated subalpine desert at the summit. The northern and eastern slopes of Haleakalā and the rainforests of the Kīpahulu Valley are among the richest botanical regions in Hawai‘i. More than 90% of the native biota found in the park is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and nearly 50% is endemic to Maui. The park is further renowned for its exceptional air quality and dark night skies. The remarkable ecological diversity of the park is recognized by its designation as part of an International Biosphere Reserve. The United Nations has designated the entire park, together with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, as the Hawaiian Islands Biosphere Reserve.
Haleakalā National Park was originally established in 1916 as part of Hawai‘i National Park. At that time the park included lands on both the islands of Hawai‘i (now part of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park) and Maui. The Maui portion of the park was established as a separate NPS unit in 1961 (PL 86-744, 74 Stat. 88). Of the park’s 33,265 total acres, approximately 24,000 acres (72% of the park) are designated wilderness. Park managers face an ongoing challenge in protecting and balancing the natural and untrammeled qualities of wilderness. Although the park’s ecosystems retain a high percentage of unique and endemic species found nowhere else in the world, the introduction of alien plants and animals primarily by human activities has led to the extinction or severe decline of many native species. Haleakalā’s wildlife and vegetation are therefore intensively managed to prevent further species declines and extinctions. Among these measures, fences have been placed along the park boundaries to keep nonnative grazing species such as wild boar and goats from damaging park resources.
The Haleakalā Volcano is the larger of the two volcanoes that form the island of Maui. Its crater measures about 20 miles in circumference and dominates the volcanic landscape at the summit. In several places the rim of the crater rises more than 2,500 feet above the crater floor. Rain clouds drift in on trade winds over the volcano’s lower eastern rim, and often accumulate in the center of the crater. US Geological Survey researchers conducted radiocarbon testing of the volcano’s youngest lava flows, and the data suggests the volcano was last active sometime between AD 1480 and 1600. Haleakalā’s western slopes are crossed by intermittent rainfed streambeds, and rise gently to the summit at Red Hill. The heavily eroded terrain of the mountain’s eastern fank is marked by deep valleys and gorges. From the volcano’s rim, lava once poured down its flanks to the sea, following the paths of the Ke‘anae and Kaupo valleys.
The Kīpahulu area of the park protects Kīpahulu Valley and the scenic free-flowing stream system ending at ‘Ohe‘o Gulch. From east of the volcano rim, the valley drops thousands of feet down to the coast. The Kīpahulu coastal area is set in a tropical rainforest atop a seaside cliff and was first farmed by early Polynesians more than 1,200 years ago. The upper Kīpahulu Valley is managed as a biological reserve and is home to a vast profusion of flora and fauna, including some of the world’s rarest birds, plants, and invertebrates. Some insects and plants that evolved in the Kīpahulu Valley live nowhere else. The general public is restricted from accessing the fragile rainforest of the biological reserve. Visitors can reach the lower valley of Kīpahulu via the long winding Hana Highway.
Haleakalā National Park is a sacred place to kānaka maoli (Native Hawaiians) and is fundamentally linked to their traditional and contemporary beliefs, practices, and way of life. The concept of kuleana (responsibility) is central to these beliefs, passed on from the kūpuna (ancestors) to future generations to ensure stewardship and respect for all things spiritual and physical. Closely connected to kuleana is the concept of mālama ‘āina, caring for and nurturing the land so it continues to provide the essential means and resources necessary to sustain life for present and future generations. For Native Hawaiians, the summit of Haleakalā is the Wao Akua (“Place of the Gods”) where the demigod Maui snared the sun. Tangible and intangible cultural resources and values, place names, oral traditions/history, and features of the landscape are invaluable parts of Hawaiian culture. At the piko (navel) of East Maui, traditional Hawaiian land districts (moku) converge at a place called Pōhaku Pālaha. From ancient times to the present, Native Hawaiians have used particular areas, sites, and features within the current park boundaries for a broad range of activities, cultural practices, and protocols including ceremonies, spiritual training, practices related to birth and burial, resource collection, and travel across East Maui.
The Haleakalā Wilderness is part of a historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its significant archeological resources and historic sites. The summit of Haleakalā, including Kīpahulu Valley and Kaupō Gap, is also eligible for the national register as a traditional cultural property for its association with the cultural landscape of Maui and because of its known uses, oral history, mele (chants or poems), and legends. It remains a source of traditional materials and sacred uses, and a place of profound spiritual power.
Approximately 1.2 million visitors annually come to Haleakalā National Park to experience its natural and cultural wonders. Between 15% and 30% of these visitors arrive on commercial tours. The majority of visitors who travel to the summit and headquarters / visitor center are drawn there to witness the awe-inspiring sunrise. In addition to these activities, guided hiking is available along 38 miles of trails. On clear nights, many enjoy world renowned star gazing and astronomy-oriented activities because of the exceptional viewing conditions. Two primitive campgrounds and three public use historic cabins are available for reserved visitor use in the designated wilderness area.
“Hānau ka lupe noho i kai, Kia ‘i ‘ia e ka Lupeakeke noho i uka.”– na ke Kumulipo
“Born was the stringray living in the sea, Guarded by the stormy petrel living on land.”– found in the Kumulipo
|Date the Park was Established:||July 1, 1961|
|Park Area (as of 2019):||33,264.62 acres (134.6 km2)|
|Recreational Visitors (2018 Total):||1,044,084 visitors|