A big change is being made to one of Maui’s top attractions. Starting on February 1, 2017, visitors will need to make a reservation at recreation.gov to view the sunrise at Haleakala National Park. The new reservation system went live on December 1, 2016, so be sure to book in advance if you’d like to enjoy all that the sacred Hawaiian volcano has to offer.
Haleakala, meaning “house of the sun,” is 10,023 feet above sea level! From the summit, it feels as if you are flying — looking down at the clouds below you. It is no wonder Haleakala is a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike to watch the breathtaking sunrise. Reservations are required between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m., when the sun rises from its hale (house). Those without a reservation are welcome to enter after 7 a.m. when the sun has made its way past the clouds and up into the sky.
The reservation cost is $1.50 and can be booked up to 60 days in advance. This fee, which guarantees your parking space, is in addition to a $20.00 park entrance fee at the time of arrival. The entrance fee is payable by credit card. The reservation holder must be present with a photo ID and receipt for that day’s entrance. The weather at Haleakala can be very unpredictable and it will be cold, so bring a heavy jacket and a few blankets. There are no refunds or transfers in the event of bad weather.
Haleakala National Park officials cited environmental concerns and overcrowding as the reason for the new system. The parking lots at the summit can accommodate approximately 150 vehicles, however the park regularly doubles this. The amount of people can number up to 1,000. With this many visitors, emergency routes are blocked, the summit habitat is damaged and accidents happen when visitors wander off-trail
If you’d like to avoid committing to a reservation or waking up and leaving your South Maui condo at 3 am, we highly recommend you drive up for the sunset and star gazing. The summit’s altitude makes it a perfect viewing post. With the Hawaiian Islands isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the starry night sky is incredibly clear. You can also take a day trip to Haleakala for a nice hike. There are several options for exploring the erosional valley, native plant species and animals.