Haleakala National Park Summit Drive Itinerary (2024)

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Want to know the best way to experience the Haleakala National Park summit drive? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

Haleakala National Park Summit Drive

Let me tell you a little backstory about this excursion.

We had originally purchased tickets for Sunrise at Haleakala National Park on the first full day of our trip.

However, due to Winter weather at the summit, our tickets were cancelled. This was the only day of our entire trip that tickets were cancelled. What luck!

Instead, we just decided to visit Haleakala on our last day before heading back to the airport.

Our flight didn’t leave until 11:30 PM, so we had plenty of time to watch sunset if we wanted to.

There is a separate area of Haleakala National Park you can visit that is actually a part of the Road to Hana itinerary, but this post is solely about summiting Haleakala.

Our Experience With The Haleakala National Park Summit Driving Tour

We recommend taking about 4-6 hours or more to get the full experience.

We began our self-guided driving tour around 2 pm and ended it around 7 pm.

It takes at least an hour each way just to drive up and down Haleakala, but remember you’ll be stopping along the way for trails, overlooks, or to possibly watch the sunrise or sunset.

We followed the sunset and stargazing tour itinerary, which is almost a reverse order of the sunrise itinerary.

☑️ Haleakala National Park Entrance and Neighboring Towns

The tour directions begin once you reach Pukalani Town.

If you haven’t already, this is where you want to stop for food, drinks, and make sure you have enough gas in your car.

Next, you’ll pass through Makawao Town. This is a small town in Upcountry Maui that is known for their cattle industry historically, but also their arts and culture today.

The older structures very much resemble an old Western town.

After this, you’ll finally reach the entrance to Haleakala National Park and that’s where the best part begins.

☑️ Hosmer Grove Nature Trail

The first real stop you’ll come across is the Hosmer Grove Nature Trail.

By this point, you’re already at an elevation of 6,800 feet, so it’ll be cooler than when you started your drive.

There are trees from all over the world in this grove, including Juniper and Fir trees from North America, Cedar and Seigi Pine trees from Japan, and Eucalyptus trees from Australia.

This trail is only about a half mile loop, so you can expect to spend anywhere from 15-30 minutes in this area.

☑️ Halemau’u Crater Hike

This crater hike is actually 8 miles if you do the full hike.

However, you can hike just the first mile to an overlook of the crater, then go back the same way you hiked in.

This is what we did because it was the last day of our trip and we were heading to the airport that night and wanted to make sure we got through everything on the itinerary.

If I ever go back, I may plan a fuller day from sunrise to sunset to do some of the longer hikes.

At this point in the drive you should be driving through the clouds and maybe even above the clouds.

☑️ Leleiwi Overlook

This overlook is nice, short stop along the way to the summit of Haleakala.

This trail is less than a quarter of a mile, so anybody can get out and enjoy this part of the itinerary.

By now you’re above the clouds and have amazing views overlooking Maui.

Leleiwi Overlook at Haleakala National Park

☑️ Kalahaku Overlook

At the Kalahaku Overlook, you can see the crater floor of Haleakala.

☑️ Pa Ka’oao Trail

The Pa Ka’oao Trail is just off from the visitors center, so really at this point you’ve just about reached the summit.

It’s a short half mile trail with more overlooks, but different views than what you’ve seen before.

☑️ Red Hill Summit

Just past the visitor center is Red Hill Summit, or Pu’u’ula’ula.

This is the official summit of Mount Haleakala. The elevation at this point is 10,023 feet above sea level.

This is where you’ll want to be if you’re wanting to watch the sunset.

Be sure to check the sunset time before your visit to try to plan out your logistics of when to arrive.

☑️ Sliding Sands Trail

If you have time, just off from the visitor center parking lot is the Sliding Sand Trail.

This is an 11 mile hike, where you can hike just to the first switchback or so if you’re not looking to complete the whole trail.

Only plan to do this hike if it is still day time and if you’ve brought plenty of food and water with you.

We didn’t do this trail because I actually started to feel a little bit of altitude sickness and decided to take a 30 minute nap before heading back down.

☑️ Driving Back Down Haleakala + Viewpoints + Upcountry Farms

The last few parts of the tour include driving back down and taking in the views from a different perspective.

What’s great about using the Shaka Guide for this tour is that they tell you stories about the area, including the myths and folklore of the Hawaiian islands.

One place we really wanted to go on our trip but didn’t have the time for is the Ali’i Lavender Farm, which is included on this itinerary.

There is also the Kula Botanical Garden and the Surfing Goat Dairy, which also has a petting zoo.

Lastly, Maui Winery is here and they are famous for their pineapple wine.

Know Before You Go

The first thing you will want to do is download the Shaka Guide App.

✅ Self-Guided Driving Tour App

We purchased the bundle that included all of the Maui driving tours because we needed several of them for our trip.

There are 6 in total and it was $29.99 for all of them.

This app is perfect because you download the tour before you leave and it tracks you through GPS.

So when you don’t have service, it still works!

As you reach different points along the route, it’ll trigger the next part of the tour.

It’ll go automatically throughout your entire drive (unless you choose to turn it off).

? Click Here To Download Your Shaka Guide Self-Guided Driving Tour Bundle (Including Haleakala National Park Summit Drive) Today!

Another option, if this is the only driving tour you’re interested in, you can purchase just the Haleakala summit drive itinerary.

It works the same way as the bundle, except for only having the one tour included and it’s $19.99.

This tour is designed for visiting for sunrise, but if you have weather conditions where that is not possible like we had, you can really do this tour at any time.

? Click Here To Download Your Shaka Guide Self-Guided Haleakala National Park Summit Drive Tour Today!

Lastly, this tour is designed for sunset and stargazing, so if you know you’re visiting later in the day and you don’t need any of the other driving tours, then this one will be perfect for what you’re looking for.

We personally followed this tour since we had the bundle and the time to stay for sunset.

? Click Here To Download Your Shaka Guide Self-Guided Sunset and Stargazing Driving Tour of Haleakala National Park Today!

✅ Motion and Altitude Sickness

Some other things to be aware of is that you may experience altitude sickness due to the 10,000 foot climb.

If it gets to be too much, just drive back down as soon as possible.

You may also experience car/motion sickness if you’re prone to it, so try to be the driver if you can.

Also don’t read while in the car and make sure you have the windows down for fresh air.

✅ What You Need To Bring With You

There is no food available inside the park, so make sure to pack plenty of water and snacks.

Eat a meal before going in or bring one to have a picnic if you’d like.

Also bring blankets and heavy coats if you’re going for sunrise or sunset.

It gets VERY cold all throughout the year due to the altitude.

✅ Haleakala Hiking Trails and Overlooks

Throughout the drive, you’ll come across a few places to take short hikes.

We recommend all the stops suggested on the Shake Guide.

You’ll also come across many overlooks and pullout spots on your way up Haleakala.

Stop at several as you go because the view will change dramatically.

Some overlooks and trails look out over all of Maui, while others look directly into the crater of Haleakala.

You’ll definitely be driving through and above the clouds on this trip, so be prepared for that too!

Fun Things To Do On Maui During Your Stay

Obviously people don’t just vacation for the hotel room, so once you’ve made it here, you’re probably wondering what all there is to do.

✅ 5 Night Complete Maui Itinerary

For an all-inclusive look at everything you can do during your stay on Maui, check out our full 6 day, 5 night itinerary.

✅ Whale Watching

You can’t go to Maui without doing a little bit of whale watching.

Click Here To Book Your Maui Whale Watching Excursion Today!

✅ Cacao Farm + Chocolate Tasting Tour

This was one of the highlights of our trip, with my favorite photo of us in the treehouse tasting chocolates made from the cacao grown on this farm.

The views are amazing, the chocolate is amazing, and it’s a fun experience most Maui visitors don’t get to do.

Click Here To Book Your Cacao Farm + Chocolate Tasting Tour at Maui Ku’ia Estate Today!

✅ The 7 Best Luaus On Maui

You have to go to a luau at least once when you’re visiting any of the Hawaiian islands.

✅ Road To Hana Full Loop Drive

I highly recommend driving the full loop route if the weather permits. Most visitors just drive to Hana and back, but there is so much more to do and see!

Click Here To Download Your Self Guided Road To Hana Full Loop Driving Tour Today!

Best Places To Eat On Maui

We’ve compiled a list of all the best restaurants on Maui to try while you’re visiting.

Where To Stay When You’re Visiting Maui

I highly recommend staying at Ka’anapali Beach Club when you’re visiting Maui.

This property is owned by Hilton Vacation Club (who purchased it from Diamond Resorts recently).

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be an owner of this timeshare to stay at this resort.

You can book your stay easily through Hotels.com at the link below.

I recommend this resort specifically because for the same price as a standard hotel room, you’ll get a full kitchen, balcony with ocean views, a jacuzzi tub, separate bedroom and living spaces, and more.

If this room type is available, I recommend trying to book the one bedroom Deluxe Oceanview Suite.

Click Here To Book Your Stay At Ka’anapali Beach Club Today!

Conclusion: Haleakala National Park Summit Drive Itinerary

The Haleakala National Park summit drive is a great itinerary that can be done at any time of day.

Whether it’s sunrise, sunset, or any time in-between, the views will be great.

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