Directions & Map to Haleakala Summit for Watching Sunrise

Maui Sunrise Haleakala

From my advice for watching Haleakala sunrise, I recommend that you map out your directions at least a day before you plan to go. Otherwise, you’ll be fumbling around for directions in the dark while you’re only half awake. That’s a recipe for getting lost in a hurry.

In theory, getting to the summit of Haleakala sounds easy peasy. In my opinion, it’s not as easy as it seems. Though, we’ve been to Haleakala for sunrise multiple times, we still sometimes wonder if we’re headed in the right direction. Driving in the deep dark of the night just adds to the challenge.

The last time we drove to Haleakala for sunrise, we temporarily parked at the Visitors Center. We had a brief argument discussion whether we were in the correct spot or not. I’m not going to say who was right or wrong 😉 but I asked Andy to humor me and continue drive a bit further, because I could faintly see that we hadn’t reached the summit. Well, he did and then we reached the summit.

To help clear confusion. Andy created this brilliant custom Google map identifying the summit parking lot. If you check out that map in the satellite view, you’ll be able to get your bearings a bit better before you’re driving around up there in the dark.

View Haleakala Summit Parking Lot in a larger map

From this Google Map link the summit parking lot is also indicated. You should be able to create custom directions from that link. (Disclaimer: Please note that the summit parking lot is accurately identified, however, sometimes Google directions may not be 100% accurate.)

More hints and tips to help you get to the sunrise view:

– Once get onto the winding road to the summit, you need to drive as high as the road takes you. The prime sunrise viewing point is at the summit.

– After you’ve found the correct parking area, you’ll need to find a short trail that leads you to the a hexagonal-shaped shelter.  You can see that shelter in the satellite-view in the custom Google Map.

– Use a GPS Navigation System if you have one. The audible directions are very helpful in the dark. Also bring a print out or downloaded list of directions as a back up.

– Review more tips on my Haleakala sunrise post, including what to bring and wear.

  1. Inspiring spot for sunrise or sunset. Some of our party went for sunrise and others sunset. I think you’ve done a good job of helping folks find their way. It does seem like it takes forever with the lower speeds and criscrossing. Also might want to mention that you go thru areas where animals may cross or be on the road, so beware.

  2. We’re planning a trip for October and we’ll definitely be taking our rental car to Haleakala! We’re leaning toward the sunSET. Reasons include: 1. Maui will be the last of 3 islands we visit so we’ll already be adjusted to the time change; 2. don’t really want to get up at 2am; 3. to enjoy the Milky Way after the sunsets; 4. leary of driving in the dark which we’ll have to do either way. Number 4 is our greatest concern, so could you please describe what the drive is really like? How trecherous is it, if at all? It seems like, when we drive DOWN after the sunset, we’d be on the inside-next to the volcano, not on the edge of the cliff. Do all the cliffs have guardrails? It sounds like thousands do this every year, but what can you say to put our minds at ease? Thanks!

    1. Becca — I personally feel like it’s easier to drive uphill on winding roads in the dark. When you’re driving downhill, you have to work harder to control your speed around curvy roads.

      There are sections of the drive to Haleakala that have guard rails, but not everywhere. Here’s a youtube video I found of someone driving towards the top of volcano. As you can tell there’s very little (none) guard rails at that section. From that video, you can also get a picture of what it would be like driving down the other side of the road.

      As you’re driving downhill, you’ll be driving on the outside of the volcano and the inside of the volcano as the road switches back and forth.

    1. We’ve never timed it, so we don’t know for certain. If I had to guess, I’d say probably somewhere between 25 and 40 minutes.

  3. we are planning on going there in October. Is the parking spaces crowded? what day is best for less crowds?

    1. There aren’t many parking spaces at the summit, so get there earlier if you want to park at the top. As far as we know, crowds aren’t day dependent.

  4. Hi,
    I am planning to visit the place on 23 January. According to weather sites, This looks like a cloudy day with little rain.
    I can not make it for the sunrise. I am planning to start at 9.00 am from Lahina and reach there by 12.00 & comeback..

    is it a good time to visit the place on a cloudy/rainy day? Or should I choose very early morning time only..

    thanks ,

    1. The summit is usually above the clouds. For further advice/concern regarding the weather, call the park the day you’re planning to visit.

      1. Thanks for the quick reply Sheila.
        Frankly speaking, after reading so many article on your website, I split my itinerary and added 3-day Maui visit to my plan..
        Thanks for collecting such a nice database about Hawaii..

        Do you mean that, if I reach early, despite of rainy day, there is a fair chance of seeing good sunrise?

        I have two other concerns.
        1) I am travelling with 4 year old son.. hence I would like to avoid a very early start and I dont want to get stuck somewhere due to bad weather. Is the road safe on rainy day? Are there any chances of landslide/ flash floods on the road on the rainy days?

        2) I want to understand , if I start at 9.00 would the views be still pleasant.. Is it worth a visits if I am visiting the place at noon time??

        1. Unlike the road to Hana, the road to the summit of Haleakala is not prone to mud slides. Did you see our video of the drive down Haleakala?

          It is a long, winding road. It’s neat to see the crater, but if you are concerned with bringing your four year old, then maybe it’s not worth the effort in your case. Also, the thinner air at that elevation can be harder on young children.

          There’s so much to do on Maui beyond going to Haleakala:

          This article about rain might allay some of your concerns:

  5. Hi, Your site is amazing and beyond helpful to our planning. What time do you think is a good tome to plan to be at Kula Lodge for breakfast after watching the sunrise?

  6. I’m in a conundrum trying to decide if I’ll have enough time to view the sunrise and then make it to the OGG airport by 10:30. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hawaii Vacation Must Haves
You May Also Like

Top Hawaiian Spas

Mobile Travel Guide has released their 2007 list of top spas.  There were eight Hawaiian spas on the list.  Maui, Oahu, Lanai, and the Big Island have four and three-star spas. …
Read Article