Haleakalā National Park

Haleakalā National Park is located in Hawaii in the United States, on the island of Maui. The park contains 33,265 acres of protected land, with 19,270 acres of designated wilderness. The area was initially added to Hawaii National Park in 1916, alongside the Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes on the island of Hawaii. The creation of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in 1961 helped established Haleakalā National Park and in 2000, the name of the park was altered to its Hawaiian spelling by the Hawaiian National Park Language Correction Act of 2000. The park is home to the Haleakala Observatory, which is located near the visitor’s center and is managed by University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. This observatory is well placed due the clear conditions of the skies over the area. Haleakalā National Park is separated into two areas known as the Kipahulu area and the summit.

The summit area of Haleakalā National Park, which includes the Haleakalā Crater and the area around the summit, can be accessed by Hawaii state road 378. The Haleakalā Crater is two miles wide and holds cinder cones and other volcanic features in its center. The interior of the crater can be reached by the Sliding Sands and Halemau’u trails, where visitors can stay in three cabins by reserving one in advance. Other attractions in this area include sky gazing during the day and night and hiking through Hosmer’s Grove, which contains many foreign species like eucalyptus trees from Australia and deodar trees from the Himalayas. The native species of trees and plants in this area are sparse due to the lack of sunlight caused by the foreign species. The park offers astronomy equipment rentals like binoculars and telescopes and visitors can view the reintroduced Hawaiian geese during the day.

The second area of the park, known as Kipahulu, cannot be accessed by the main road in the summit area of the park, but can be reached using a winding coastal road that runs along the eastern side of the island. This area is located within the Kipahulu Valley and holds the Kipahulu Valley Biological Reserve, which does is not open to visitors and protects fragile plant and animal species from human encroachment. Kipahulu features over two dozen pools of water, known as the ʻOheʻo, that occur along Palikea Stream and holds rare species of endemic fish. There is a trail that begins at the pools and leads to Waimoku Falls and visitors can swim in the pools. The species of plants and animals in this area of the park were either brought by natural occurrences, like wind and sea currents, or by explorers who carried the wildlife by boat.  Haleakalā National Park contains more endangered species than any other national park in the United States, but a large portion of the area’s native species have become endangered or extinct due to human presence.

Image Caption: Kipahulu coastal region of Haleakala National Park. Credit: Michael Oswald/Wikipedia