Haleakala National Park to begin reservation system for summit sunrise

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One of the top things to do on a Maui vacation is to watch the sunrise over a volcanic crater from 10,000 feet elevation. Apparently, this activity has become a little too popular with more people (and cars) visiting than available parking spaces. Per officials at Haleakala National Park,

The four summit parking lots serving sunrise viewing hold approximately 150 vehicles. Vehicles regularly exceed 300 per sunrise. When vehicles outnumber parking spaces, visitors park on road shoulders or in the up-bound lane of Crater Road. The cars block emergency vehicle access and damage park infrastructure, vegetation, and critical habitat for endangered species such as the Hawaiian petrel and Haleakalā silversword.

Crowds at sunrise viewpoints often number over 1,000, with accidents resulting from visitors moving off trail and climbing cliff sides in the dark.

In an effort to alleviate this issue, park management will begin using a reservation system to limit the number of visitors to the available space. Starting February 1, 2017, you must have a reservation to enter the park between the hours of 3am and 7am. Reservations can be secured for a nominal fee of $1.50 per car up to 60 days in advance. You can begin making reservations December 1, 2016. Note that the $1.50 per car reservation fee is in addition to the current $20 per car entrance fee which is valid for three days — including a visit to the coastal, Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park off the road to Hana.

Sunrise reservations can be made online here.

More resources:

About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

8 comments

  1. Hi there! Thanks so much for building this awesome website! It is making our honeymoon to Maui so easy to plan!

    I’d like to ask: we are staying at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa in Lahaina and we are going to visit the Haleakala Summit. You posted the National Park’s estimated drive time from Lahaina to be 3.5 hours but Google Maps shows 1.25 hours when I entered “Haleakalā National Park Headquarters Visitor Center, Haleakalā National Park, Haleakala Hwy, Kula, HI 96790, USA” as the destination. Which one should I follow? Thanks!

    • We’ve never posted drive times that I’m aware of. Perhaps you saw those drive times on the Haleakala National Park’s website?

      There are three different visitor center buildings within Haleakala National Park, which probably add to the confustion.

      I think 1.25 hours seems too short. I’m guessing that’s most likely just to the visitors center at the entrance gate to the summit. The drive time of 3.5 hours sounds too long. I think you’ll find that it’s somewhere in between…more like 2 to 2.5 hours. See this link for more advice on finding the summit and getting directions: http://www.govisithawaii.com/2011/04/14/directions-to-haleakala-summit-for-watching-sunrise/

  2. Do you know of any way to buy last minute sunrise reservations? For the next 3 days?

  3. Aloha and Mahalo for your amazingly awesome website! I am going to be in Maui for my sister’s wedding mid-May and I REALLY want to try and see the sunrise at Haleakala. Unfortunately, I am not as mobile as I used to be … still able to walk but not for long distances and definitely afraid to make a trek that might be steep or if footing is “suspect” … Is this an excursion that I can do, or am I better off sending the more able-bodied without me? Looking forward to your reply. Thanks again so very much!

    • Aloha Mindy – good news — there’s only a short walk to get from the summit parking lot to the summit view point. As best I remember, it’s about 100 yards or so. It’s paved. There is a bit of an elevation climb from the parking lot to the sunrise view, but not too difficult. Bear in mind that the summit air has less oxygen, so take the walk slowly so you don’t get out of breath. Be sure and read our tips listed under the “more resources” at the bottom of the article.

  4. Can you recommend a tour company which picks up at various hotels and drives ou to the summit? I do not want to byclce down.

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