Sprinkled along the slopes of Haleakala are the picturesque towns of Upcountry Maui. Vast expanses of green rolling pastureland with striking ocean views create an enchanting landscape around the base of the crater. At 3,000 feet, the air is cooler and the trade winds carry the scent of eucalyptus and pine. Upcountry Maui is home to vibrantly verdant botanical gardens, sizeable cattle ranches, protea flower farms, sweet Maui onions, lavender fields, crisp Kula greens and the island’s only winery. Highway 37 connects the upcountry Maui towns of Makawao, Pukalani, Kula and Haleakala Crater. In the morning hours, it is a single lane highway going up and the opposite in the afternoon.
Makawao - From gourmet food to horse feed, this once dying cowboy outpost has evolved into a thriving artist community. The few active cattle ranches that are left now share the arena with boutiques, cafes, restaurants and art galleries. However, remnants of paniolo (cowboy) life can still be seen around town. Clapboard buildings and wood-plank sidewalks fronted with old hitching posts still attract a horse or two. Every Fourth of July, cowboys are invited to test their skills at The Makawao Rodeo. The weekend events include a parade, cowboy skills contests along with other festivities. Reasonably priced bed-and-breakfasts offer a great escape for those looking to commune with nature.
Kula- At 3,000 feet, Kula sits just below the cloud line between the ocean and the volcano’s summit. Anyone who takes a drive up here would be hard-pressed not to notice the million dollar view that spans from Central Valley to the North and South Shores. Kula’s rich volcanic soil and ideal climate has made it a favorite spot among local farmers and ranchers. Best known for the sweet Maui onion, Kula is expanding its agricultural horizons to incorporate tobacco, lavender, citrus, goat cheese and coffee. For the outdoor explorer, Kula offers a number of “agventures.” Take a walking tour through a botanical garden or spend a day working on the farm followed by a cooking class. Looking for something a bit more active? Try an ATV or Maui Zipline tour through this cool countryside. Local B&Bs in the area cater to guests in search of a brisk environment with great views.
Haleakala - The road that ascends this dormant volcano holds the world record for climbing to the highest elevation in the shortest distance (38 miles). Rising over 10,000 feet above sea level, Haleakala can be seen from almost anywhere on the island. The visitor center sits at 9,740 feet and is the best place to watch the sunrise and learn about daily activities that are happening on the mountain. Haleakalā has a diverse terrain that can be explored by car, bike or foot. Be on the look out for rare plants and wildlife such as the Silversword, the Nene and the Chukar.