Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park sees more than 1 million visitors each year

Haleakala National Park features the Haleakalā volcano on Maui features a very large crater with numerous cinder cones, Hosmer’s Grove of alien trees, the Kipahulu section’s scenic pools of freshwater fish, and the native Hawaiian goose. The park protects the greatest number of endangered species within a U.S. National Park.

Geology

Fourteen multicolored pu’u (cinder cones) can be seen dotting the summit valley of Haleakalā

Our Earth is a water-rich and rocky planet currently covered with life. The science of “Geology,” from the Latin meaning “to study the Earth,” helps us read the rocky record of the past and perhaps allows us to prepare for the future.

Written in the Rocks
Why Are There Volcanoes Here?
“Plate Tectonics” is the study of the movements of the great plates that push against each other on the planet’s surface. In 1974, the rate of drift of the enormous Pacific Plate (on which the Hawaiian Islands formed) was found to be about four inches (10 centimeters) per year and moving northwest.

Hotspots are plumes of superheated rock that well up from deep in the Earth, melt through the crust, and build shield volcanoes like the ones found in Hawaiʻi. The drift of the Pacific Plate means that Haleakalā volcano will eventually be pulled away in a northwest direction, which will break its connection to the hot spot. The volcano will become extinct and erosion will devour it.
Haleakalā: Shield Volcano
All Hawaiian volcanoes are called “shield volcanoes” because the gradual buildup of many thin layers of lava erupting from the hot spot creates a shape like a warrior’s shield —long, broad, and gently curved. About 40% of the volcanoes on Earth are shield volcanoes. The shape of Haleakalā means that only the very top — only about 5% — is above sea level.

Fourteen multicolored pu’u (cinder cones) can be seen dotting the summit valley of Haleakalā. Pu’u form when gas is trapped in lava during an eruption and forces the lava to eject as a fountain; much like when you shake a carbonated drink can and then break the seal. The hot lava falls as sticky cinders all around the base of the fountain and a pu’u is built.

The summit of Haleakalā currently stands at 10,023ft. (3,055m.), but is believed to have once
reached 15,000ft. (4,572m.) above sea level. Erosion has worked heavily upon Haleakalā and
it is so heavy it has also begun to sink into the crust of the Earth. Even with this loss in height,
however, the volcano stands 28,000ft. (2534m.) above the sea floor, making it the third-tallest
mountain on Earth.
Crater or Valley?
What some call “the crater” is actually a massive valley carved by water and landslides. The original circular crater of the summit is long eroded away. The current S-shaped valley near the summit of the mountain is 3,000 feet (914 meters) at its deepest and about
2.5 miles (4 kilometers) at its widest. This vast valley was once twice as deep, but subsequent eruptions of Haleakalā partially filled the valley with flows and cinder cones.

Haleakalā is not extinct. It could erupt again. In fact, the last eruption, which occurred on the southwest flank along a rift zone, was only 400-600 years ago. In the past 1,000 years, Haleakalā has erupted at least 10 times. Currently the volcano seems content to rest.
‘A‘ā and Pāhoehoe
Hawaiian names are used worldwide for the two most common types of lava. Pāhoehoe is hotter than ʻaʻā, flows more smoothly, and can cool with ropey patterns on the surface. It is often a shiny blue-black when cooled. ʻAʻā flows are brown, crumbly, chunky, clinkery, and move in a lurching, sludgy manner. Speed, direction, gas content, and temperature determine whether ʻaʻā or pāhoehoe will form. Temperature is the most significant factor.
Did You Know?
–Haleakalā actually rose .23ft. (.07m.) per year between 1981 and 1992. Satellites measured this change, and geologists theorized that it could have been due either to the movement of magma (lava that has not erupted yet) deep under the sea floor or as a reaction to the ongoing eruptions on Hawai`i Island. Constant eruptions on Hawai`i Island added mass to the island and caused it to sink, forcing Maui to rise up as a reaction, similar to when a person sits next to you on a couch and causes your cushion to push you up a bit.

–Shield volcanoes like Haleakalā form where there are hotspots in the earth’s crust. Their lava is thin and flows easily. Composite volcanoes like Vesuvius or Mount St. Helens typically form where plates come together. Their lava is thicker and doesn’t flow easily so these volcanoes tend to explode a mix (a “composite”) of lava, rock, and ash.

–From Kahului, look back at Haleakalā. The rows of pu`u you see on both sides of the volcano mark “rift zones” — long lines of stress fractures on the flanks of the volcano where eruptions can occur. The last eruption on Maui occurred on the southwest flank of Haleakalā, along the southwest rift zone near Wailea. Because the volcano is not yet extinct, this rift zone could be the location of a future eruption.

–Lava comes from the Italian word lavare, “to wash.” Originally referring to a stream formed by sudden rain, the term was also applied to the streams of molten lava coming down from Mount Vesuvius.

–It is a common practice for geologic forms to be named after the place where they were first described or where the best examples are found. Local names for these formations are also used.

–Pāhoehoe is a combination of Hawaiian words: pā, for stone wall and hoe, for paddling
a canoe. The combination can refer to the ripples of stone often seen as this type of lava
flows and cools.

–ʻAʻā is a Hawaiian word that can refer to burning, blazing, or glowing.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/hale/learn/kidsyouth/haleakala-geology.htm

Native American History

Highly skilled farmers and fishermen, Hawaiians lived in small communities ruled by chieftains who battled one another for territory

The Hawaiian Islands were first settled as early as 400 C.E., when Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands, 2000 miles away, traveled to Hawaii’s Big Island in canoes. Highly skilled farmers and fishermen, Hawaiians lived in small communities ruled by chieftains who battled one another for territory.

Between 1791 and 1810, King Kamehameha conquered other rulers and united the entire archipelago into one kingdom. Hawaii’s first king, who died in 1819, is still feted with floral parades every June 11, King Kamehameha Day.

In 1820, the first Christian missionaries arrived. Shortly afterward, Western traders and whalers came to the islands, bringing with them diseases that devastated the native Hawaiian population. Hawaiians had numbered about 300,000 when Cook arrived. By 1853, the native population was down to 70,000.

In 1893, American colonists controlled Hawaii’s sugar-based economy, and they easily overthrew the kingdom and established the Republic of Hawaii. With the agreement of the mostly American elite, the U.S. annexed Hawaii as a territory in 1898.

In the 1890s, the last Hawaiian ruler, Queen Lili’uokalani was deposed, imprisoned and forced to abdicate. The author of “Aloha Oe,” Hawaii’s signature song, she remains a Hawaiian heroine. Honolulu’s Iolani Palace, where he queen lived during her reign and where she was held captive after the coup, was restored to its late 19th-century appearance in the 1970s and is open to the public for tours and concerts.

December 7, 1941, still lives in infamy as the day more than 2,300 Americans were killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, on the island of Oahu. The U.S.S. Arizona, which sank with 1,100 men aboard, was turned into a memorial in 1962. The attack forced U.S. involvement in World War II, which ended with an unconditional Japanese surrender, signed on September 2, 1945, on the U.S.S. Battleship Missouri. Today, World War II buffs can tour the Missouri, which is still anchored in Pearl Harbor.

see original article here: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/hawaii-history-and-heritage-4164590/

Park History

How Haleakala became a National Park

0 AD-800: Polynesian’s colonize the Hawaiian Islands (based on current scientific information).

660-1030: Current earliest calibrated radiocarbon date range for Hawaiian use of Haleakalā Crater.

1164-1384: Current earliest calibrated radiocarbon date range for Hawaiian use of Park lands in Kīpahulu.

1778: First European contact with Hawaiians is made by Captain Cook.

1819-1850: American missionaries and whalers arrive on Maui.

1828: First written record of an ascent to the summit of Haleakalā is made by three missionaries.

1881: Sugar production from sugarcane begins in Kīpahulu, bringing with it a diverse range of immigrants to the area. Sugar production continues until mid-1920’s.

1888: Haleakalā Ranch is established. Grazing of cattle begins on the slopes of Haleakalā. Cattle are pastured in Haleakalā Crater until 1922. Ranching is established in Kīpahulu after sugar production ends in the mid-1920’s.

1890’s: Nēnē, the Hawaiian goose, no longer found on the island of Maui due to predation by introduced cats, rats, and mongeese, as well as habitat destruction.

1898: The Republic of Hawai`i is annexed as a territory of the United States.

1916: Hawai`i National Park is established by Congress, including Haleakalā Section.

1933-1935: The road to the summit of Haleakalā is built.

1934-1941: Early NPS park development (Civilian Conservation Corps). Haleakalā Visitor Center at summit is built in 1936. The backcountry cabins were built in 1937.

1941-1946: U.S. Army occupation of Haleakalā. The park is closed to the public from 1941 to 1943

1946-present: Later NPS development in Haleakalā National Park (Mission 66). Park Headquarters is built in 1958. Observatory built at Red Hill in 1963.

1951: Kīpahulu Valley is authorized for inclusion into Haleakalā National Park.

1959: Hawai`i becomes the 50th state.

1961: Hawai`i National Park’s units are separated and re-designated as Haleakalā National Park and Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.

1962-1978: Nēnē re-introduced into Haleakalā National Park.

1974: Crater Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1976: Fencing of park boundary begins. The fencing is designed to exclude feral animals such as goats and deer in order to protect park resources. This work continues today.

1999: Ka`apahu lands are added to Haleakalā National Park.

2008: Nu`u lands are added to Haleakalā National Park.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/hale/learn/historyculture/timeline.htm

Attractions

The best things to do in Haleakala National Park

Summit Area (Mountain)
Visit the summit to experience volcanic landscapes, high-elevation ecosystems, and unparalleled skywatching. Spend a few hours driving to the highest point on Maui to take in the sights, enjoy a dayhike through native Hawaiian ecosytems, or join a Park Ranger for a talk or demonstration.

Kīpahulu Area (Coastal)
A visit to Kīpahulu is a chance to see how Hawaiians have interacted with the land for hundreds of years. The lush rainforest and cool freshwater stream and pools create a tropical setting for an afternoon of hiking, while the coastal views are just right for a photographer looking for a spectacular right shot.

Wilderness Area (Mountain)
The Haleakalā Wilderness is a place to get away and experience nature on its own terms. Whether you choose a dayhike, or plan a three-night backpacking trip, your experience here will be unlike any other. Cinder cones tower overhead, tiny native plants nestle in the rocky landscape, native birds greet you at your campground, and the night sky will surely amaze you.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/placestogo.htm

Vegetation

Over 850 species of plants are found within the bounds of Haleakala National Park

Over 850 species of plants are found within the bounds of Haleakala National Park. Of these, over 400 species are native, or arrived without human intervention; over 300 species are endemic to Hawai’i, found only in the islands.

This astonishing diversity reflects the variety of climates and elevations that allowed plants to fill niches from dry alpine deserts to humid, salt-sprayed coastlines. Plant communities formed in some of the most unlikely dry deserts and lush rainforests. Ethereal silverswords, bird-pollinated geraniums, Seussian na’ena’e and mintless mints are a few of the amazing plants that evolved in the unique and diverse environment on Haleakala.

How could plant life establish and survive on these remote, barren, new islands? Likely a few plants first arrived with seeds drifting in the air, attached to birds, as seeds from fruits eaten by birds, or drifting in seawater. Probably only a tiny sample of continental species got here. Against these overwhelming odds a seed might get here-resisting drying, cold, saltwater-only to land at a site unsuited to its growth. Seemingly successful plant colonists tended to be aggressive, weedy, and capable of surviving in a pioneer habitat such as a lava crack, or a beach, or a bog.

Survivors had only a tiny finite land area to occupy, and only a small fraction of that had a climate, temperature, and exposure suitable niche habitat. These also arrived as only a few individuals, greatly subject to problems of inbreeding. This may have been the greatest problem, for if a species continues to inbreed fatal defects accumulate. Without new individuals to remedy this problem some groups commonly experience many mutations. But over time these mutations allowed successful survivors to establish in the many tiny various microhabitats.

Some mutations were unusual. Many plants of ancestrally small non-woody herbs became large woody shrubs, almost trees. Most arrivals, now not exposed to competition, lost attributes such as thorns, thick bark, poisons, unpalatable tastes or strongly scented oils. This loss of competitiveness recently has exposed native plants to enormous loss when Hawaiians brought pigs and rats, and first Europeans brought cattle, goats and sheep to the Islands. Haleakalā park’s staff controls these new competitors, and protects a small remnant of Hawaiʻi’s original flora.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/hale/learn/nature/plants.htm

Animal Life

As one of the most geographically isolated landmasses in the world, Hawai’i is full of unique species

The Hawaiian Islands sit isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. As one of the most geographically isolated landmasses in the world, Hawai’i is full of unique species. The journey to the islands being such a vast distance limited which species were able to make it out. Most native animal species in the Hawaiian Archipelago are descendants of those that were able to fly here, such as birds, bats and insects; those light enough to be carried by birds, such as snails, some insects and spiders; and those blown here or washed ashore. Their descendents survived and reproduced to eventually inhabit the islands today. Many of these species adapted into unique species that are now endemic, found nowhere else in the world.
Haleakalā is home to several native birds, such as the nēnē (Hawaiian Goose), the ‘ua’u (Hawaiian Petrel), and 6 native Native Hawaiian Forest Birds.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/hale/learn/nature/animals-of-haleakala.htm

Hiking Trails

The best hiking trails in Haleakala National Park

Exclusive Offer

Get 30% Off Your First Purchase