Mount Haleakala offers two distinctly different environments to explore on your Maui vacation – a lush tropical rain forest and a practically barren alpine summit. These two diverse environments are separated by thousands of feet in elevation, as well as over 100 inches of annual rainfall. What I find most fascinating is that these two dramatically different climates are only separated by about five miles, as the crow flies. Just five miles!
The following photos illustrate the different environments. First, we have a photo showing a totally green tropical scene at one of the many waterfalls that flow near the road to Hana.
Next, we look at the crater at Haleakala’s summit, with barely a dot of plant life surviving in this harsh alpine environment.
Let’s also take a look at a couple of videos that show Haleakala’s two sides. This first video (email subscribers, click here to access this video.)
Now compare all that verdant rainforest to this dry and wind battered summit video. (Email subscribers, click here to access this video.)
The combination of Mount Haleakala’s elevation (10, 023 feet) along with the moist Northeast tradewinds create these two opposite climates. See my article, What does leeward and windward mean, for a little more explanation.
When you go to Maui, I hope you’ll have a chance to see the two sides of Haleakala. Some more resources you may want to review:
- Haleakala National Park’s website
- Catching a beautiful Haleakala sunrise
- Explore the area virtually with this Google map
What do you think of the two sides of Haleakala, separated by mere miles?