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Haleakalā is Hawaiian for ‘House of the Sun.’ The demigod Maui is said to have imprisoned the sun here to lengthen the day. And so we took an afternoon excursion to the summit to watch the sun set from above the clouds.
Haleakalā was originally part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, along with the two volcanoes on the Big Island of Hawaii, designated in 1916. In 1961, Haleakalā was broken out into a separate National Park.
First we stopped at the Park Headquarters at 7000 feet. Our guide pointed out some ʻāhinahina (a type of Silversword plant found only on Haleakalā.) There was also a Nēnē crossing sign in front of the center…these Hawaiian geese had died out in the park, but were reintroduced by Boy Scouts in 1946.
Our next stop was the Haleakalā Visitor Center at 9700 feet. This was a far as the tour bus could go and we would watch the sunset from here. The visitor center itself was closed as it is opens at dawn for the bigger sunrise crowd.
We could see the observatory at the 10k ft summit. We walked towards it a bit while waiting for sunset and saw some birds running around in the lava fields.
At first we thought they were the Nēnē we’d heard so much about, but upon closer inspection, they turned out to be Chukar. This is a type of pheasant, originally introduced into Hawaii for hunting. It has adapted well to the cold climate of the volcano’s summit.
Before the sun set, there was mist rolling through the Haleakalā Crater. The crater is seven miles across and 2600 feet deep. We could only see part of it.
Finally the sun began to set and paint the sky in rapidly changing hues. The fog rolled in and obscured it one moment and rolled out the next to reveal a diffused alien-looking sky.
- Kahului Harbor
- Haleakalā National Park
- ʻĪao Valley State Monument
- Maui Tropical Plantation
- Maui Ocean Center
Location: 30000 Haleakala Hwy, Kula, HI 96790
Designation: National Park
Date established/designated: July 1, 1961
Date of my visit: April 14, 2019