Like all of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui was formed as the result of undersea volcanic activity. Although a lush, green, vibrant island today, evidence of its far more violent and volcanic past can be seen in the impressive Haleakala volcano, the centerpiece of Haleakala National Park. Standing over 10,000 feet it is the world's largest dormant volcano.
Haleakala National Park offers an enormous amount of activities for visitors. The park covers over 30,000 acres, over 24,000 of which are designated as wilderness. To tour Haleakala there is a round trip tour that covers an impressive 76 miles throughout the park. Taking at least three hours of driving time this can be an excellent way to experience the entirety of Haleakala National Park.
For those looking to tour Haleakala on foot there are over 40 miles worth of hiking trails in Haleakala National Park. Hiking trails take you from the vibrant depths of the Haleakala valleys to the highest tops of the volcano and everything in between. Everything you see in Haleakala is a feast for the eyes, whether it be the tropical vegetation or the brilliant colors of the crater floor.
If you are looking to make your trip to Haleakala National Park a true experience to remember cabins are available on the floor of the crater itself. How many people can say that they stayed in the belly of the world's largest dormant volcano? If you are looking to stay in one of these cabins be warned: they are by reservation only.
Campers are in for a real treat in Haleakala, as campgrounds in Haleakala National Park are available for free on a first come first serve basis. You must still pay to get into the park ($10 per car, $5 for motorcycles, bicycles and hikers), but once there the stay in the campgrounds is free. Camping at Haleakala National Park is a great way to experience its beauty and offers plenty of time for exploring the vast park and all it has to offer.
One thing to prepare for when you tour Haleakala is the change in temperature. One doesn't expect to be cold when visiting the tropical paradise that is Hawaii, but temperatures at the summit of Haleakala can be 30 degrees lower than they are at sea level. Pack warm clothes and expect the change in temperature as you hike or drive towards the top of the volcano.
Even if you aren't into the whole hiking scene the driving tour is an amazing experience. It takes you all the way to the top of Haleakala, and has plenty of stops and spectacular overlooks. Leleiwi Overlook is one of the most popular overlooks in Haleakala National Park. It stands at an elevation of about 8,000 feet and lies about 8 miles from the Visitor Center.
Leleiwi Overlook showcases spectacular views and if the cloud conditions are right you can even see the "Specter of the Broken." This amazing effect allows you to see a full circle rainbow of yourself reflected against the clouds. Seeing the Specter is a truly amazing experience and only one of many that you will find in Haleakala National Park.