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How difficult is the drive to Maui's Haleakala National Park?

How difficult is the drive to Maui's Haleakala National Park?

Nov 27th, 2008, 05:37 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2004
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How difficult is the drive to Maui's Haleakala National Park?

Are there switchbacks?

Does the road narrow with sharp drop-offs with no guard rails?

How does it compare to the drive to Kauai's Waimea Canyon? (We drove up Waimea Canyon Drive and down Koke'e Road last year.)

We are staying near Lahaina. Should we leave by 3:30 a.m. to reach the summit before sunrise?

Thanks in advance!
MarthaB is offline  
Nov 27th, 2008, 12:57 PM
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I am afraid I can't help you about the sunrise timing (I'm too lazy for that). But when I drove up the road a few years ago when I was in Maui, I found the road to be in good condition and that the switchbacks didn't seem that bad to me (not like the road up to Sequoia National Park, for instance). I had to go half-way up and halfway down in a dense fog, but I still didn't get that stressed.
doug_stallings is offline  
Nov 27th, 2008, 05:00 PM
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Hi, I spent my honeymoon in Maui 5.5 years ago and the sunrise at Haleakala National Park was recommended to us. We left about 4am and drove in pitch black up the curvy (goes around and around the volcano) road. I was extremely nervous due to the evergrowing height and no guardrails in several areas. We were nearly frozen at the top before the sunrise, so take warm jackets. The whole world appears differently after the pretty sunrise and it heats up quickly. The ride for you will be much easier and it is scenic on the way down. Hope this helps.
chubbyhazel is offline  
Nov 27th, 2008, 07:43 PM
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There are switchbacks, but the road is not all that bad. I was more nervous driving it in daylight when i could see the edge of the cliffs! You have to leave early for the sunrise but it is so worth it. Bring warm clothes- it is quite cold up top! Be sure to get out of your car and check out all the stars when it is dark- you will be amazed.
Kerry392 is offline  
Nov 27th, 2008, 08:09 PM
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All I remember about it is that I got carsick!
PMCW58 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2008, 04:37 AM
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Thanks for all the advice!

I will be packing some Dramamine for our 11-year-old, a thermos full of hot coffee for dh, and jackets and blankets. I really hate heights when driving (my hands are getting sweaty just thinking about it now!), but it sounds like it's worth doing to see the view.

MarthaB is offline  
May 24th, 2011, 01:25 AM
Join Date: May 2011
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Haleakala National Park is one of the most diverse places I've ever visited. While it's technically possible to see the park in one day, most people who visit both the summit and the Kipuhulu Valley do so at a more leisurely pace. There is no direct route from the summit to the valley so you are forced to drive around. http://www.wildlifeworld360.com/hale...onal-park.html
Kainen is offline  
May 24th, 2011, 03:27 PM
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We've done Haleakala twice.
1) Driving; ditto car sick & freezing our keesters off. (In comparison, LOVE the Waimea Canyon drive.)
2) By Helicopter: Ultimately cool.
Also takes you over beautiful Hana.
Blue Hawaiian website (imo, the Eco-Star is definitely worth the additional expense; much better seating, larger windows and a lot less vibration).
hulapieguy is offline  
May 24th, 2011, 05:53 PM
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It will be cold. Some people bring the blankets from their hotel or condo -- in case you didn't pack a jacket (after all it is Hawaii). Agree that the road at night won't be a big issue. There will be other cars but they will all be heading up. It's a bigger climb than Waimea Canyon but not bad.
Lahaina's a fairly long haul--not sure about the timing at 3:30 a.m.
When we went, farmers were burning sugar cane fields at night. It was pretty surreal.
edjim is offline  
May 24th, 2011, 09:55 PM
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It is no worse than Waimea Canyon Drive.

Because you are going uphill, you can easily slow for the switchbacks.

Going down in the daylight is actually worse (but safe). Use a low gear.
dusty56438 is offline  
May 24th, 2011, 10:22 PM
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There are switchbacks. But on the way up they are easy as the vehicle slows easily. Plus you just follow cars.

Actually it is worse going down as you have to downshift.

But it is light by then & still easy.
dusty56438 is offline  
May 25th, 2011, 09:45 AM
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Freezing - not just cold - a jacket isn't enough. We had sleeping bags with us, and we were still cold!
sf7307 is offline  
May 30th, 2011, 10:29 AM
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Personally I wouldn't be willing to drive it in the dark myself. My family was happy going up later on in the morning. We left Lahaina after breakfast. If I wanted to go for sunrise, I think I'd consider using one of the bus or van tours to get me up there.
suze is offline  
May 30th, 2011, 12:34 PM
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Bring gloves! They are not that bulky to back and you'll need them, better yet - disposable hand warmers.
debsnj is offline  
May 30th, 2011, 02:09 PM
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A few years ago my family and I visited the Haleakala Park for the sunrise. Yes it was freezing. We ended up using a van touring company who picked us up at around 3am from our hotel. The tour company even provided us with warm coats, hats, scarves, etc. I highly recommend this if you can do it because then you do not have to worry about driving. After the sunrise we left and the driver took us to a very cute small cafe on our way down for breakfast. It was so worth getting up that early to see such an incredible sight and having a driver made it much easier. Enjoy!!
jerseygrl is offline  
May 30th, 2011, 03:01 PM
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We just did the Haleakala trip in March. We were on a cruise ship docked Maui for the day and we booked the tour through the cruise line. It was an 8 hr (little bit longer) trip. We were picked up at the dock in Maui and it was approx. an hour to where you start the ascent. The scenery was so breathtaking on the way up. We were on a bus so it was not that bad. The driver did an excellent navigating those twists and turns. You just have to go slow. There are many bicyclists on the road.

I think a sunrise trip would be so awesome! It was very cold the day we were there (30 deg.). Would definitely suggest warm clothing, gloves, hats if you wear them, etc.

It was definitely one of the highlights of our cruise.
Luv2travel15 is offline  
Jun 1st, 2011, 08:22 AM
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We've done the drive to Haleakala 4 times. The first time we left Lahaina at 1:30am to catch the meteor shower and ended up having a flat tire at 8,000 feet. A word of caution if you go - don't drive over lava rock that's in the road and BRING A FLASHLIGHT!! We had to change the tire by the light of the video camera. The second time I went was to bike back down. It was foggy and drizzly and no sunrise. The 3rd time was absolutely clear with no clouds, just cold and wind. The 4th time was in the afternoon so we could see what it's like in the daylight. There are lots of switchbacks and the guardrail stops when you get to the state park gate. It was be a bit unnerving at that point, but worth the trip since you've already gone that far. Don't underestimate how cold it can be even during the day.
Have a great trip. We're counting down the days until our next visit in February.
TravelGram is offline  
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