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Visiting Haleakala Crater in Maui

Visiting Haleakala Crater? 4 Things to Know Before You Go.

If you’re planning a trip to Maui, chances are pretty good that you’re planning on visiting Haleakala National Park. But before you make the trip, be sure to read this article for some insights into the must-sees and must-dos of your visit.

We have visited Hawaii on vacation at least a half a dozen times and Maui 4 times. When traveling to Maui you typically only need bathing suits, shorts, tank tops or t shirts, flip flops, and some walking shoes to get around. You can survive very comfortably because year-round its basically 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The water at the beach is warm and that’s why we all go to this tropical paradise.

If you plan on going to visit Haleakala Crater, then you best be prepared to wear pants, long sleeves, a jacket, a beanie and basically winter type clothes.

Our family visited Haleakala Crater last January.

It took some time to drive up to the top. We had a 4×4 Jeep and it wasn’t needed. A standard car or SUV would do just fine on the drive up. The drive is beautiful going up there. The side of the mountain is green and lots of livestock, wildlife and gorgeous views. Driving back down we saw several rainbows that reminded us of God’s promise.

This is what we discovered at Haleakala

#1 – It’s freaking cold up there! It was 30 degrees F up there that day.

#2 – Remember the elevation is 10,023′.

Most noteworthy, we weren’t very prepared. Note to self: Be prepared. We did take jackets but spring or fall type jackets. It was raining once we got about 3/4 of the way up the mountain. It was wet, cold and the visibility was horrible. We were cold!

Jeep parked in lost on top of the volcano
Jeep we drove up the volcano

We stood in the car while waiting for the chance that just maybe the sky would clear up and we hoped to see the crater.

#3 – Birds that live in the cold

Meanwhile in the parking lot we did get to see the unique Chukar Partridge, which are known for hanging out on Haleakala because its the highest elevation on the island. Plus, they are infatuated with the moon.

I finally decided to get out and see if I could handle being out in the cold. I huddled next to the rangers building near the railing of the crater. It blocked the cold wind. The wind chill dropped the temp at least 15 degrees or more.

While waiting I noticed a couple got out of their car and started walking towards me. When they got up to the area I was near they were disappointed that they couldn’t see the crater either. I offer that they stand near me against the building to not be as cold as in the open. They hung out with me and we talked about the craziness of being out there. We also talked about how neither of us were concerned about COVID standing near each other, because we just wanted to keep warm.  

#4 – Poor Visibility if its cloudy

Suddenly, the sky partially broke and I hope the crater would be clear enough to get a picture. The clouds covered again and then shortly after separated. The high winds kept the cloud moving very rapidly. The last partial break in the cloud I was able to see the observatory that is up there on the right hand side of the crater. I realized that the observatory buildings totally reminded me of a scene from Star Wars. I got additional chills since I am such a big Star Wars fan. Check out the pics I shot!

Haleakala Crater Observatory looks like Star Wars scene

Finally, I ask my family to come out and check out the little that we could see, including the elevation sign. We at the very least were able to say that we made it! We finally for the first time in a half a dozen visits, got to get to the top of the crater at ten thousand feet elevation.

Family cold on top of Haleakala

On our next visit we for sure will go when it’s easier to view. Maybe not in January. June should be a better time.