Climb to the House of the Sun
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk on the surface of a distant planet? No landscape comes closer than Haleakala Crater. Part of Haleakala National Park, the summit is easily reachable by car and the steep alpine drive gives way fantastic views of Central Maui and the West Maui Mountains. At an elevation of over 10,000 feet, the temperature can drop below freezing and once every couple of years, a light covering of snow blankets the top of the mountain.
On a clear day, the white-capped peak of Mauna Kea on the Big Island is visible to the west. But the view looking down into the crater demands more of your attention as reds, yellows and blacks swirl through volcanic sands. Dotted with cinder cones, lava rocks and beautiful yet rare Silver Sword Plant, the crater is accessible by the sliding sands trail. Many hikers will complete a rigorous 11-mile loop through the crater and out a series of switchbacks known as Halemauu trail.
The summit of Haleakala is also a great place to watch the sunrise. Every morning travelers gather in the chilly pre-dawn hours to watch the sun poke its head from the Pacific. On days with just the right cloud cover, the event can resemble a colorful impressionist painting. The more adventurous types can ride back down the park road on a guided tour from one the many local bike companies.