Explore Mars-like landscapes and watch clouds form and dissipate before your eyes in Haleakalā National Park. If you come at the right time, enjoy a sunset like no other at 10,000 ft.

If you're headed up to Haleakala to catch the sunrise or sunset at the summit, leave a few hours before or after to do a quick hike into the crater on the Sliding Sands Trail.

This is not an easy hike (high elevation and therefore lower concentration of oxygen, altitude sickness concerns and steep climbs*), but the different perspectives of the Haleakala crater make it very worthwhile! Depending on the conditions, you may be able to watch clouds creep over and into the crater, or even suddenly appear and disappear right in front of you.

From the parking lot of the Haleakala National Park Visitor Centre, you will find a small dirt path that leads into the beginning of the Sliding Sands Trail. Keep in mind that you should double the time it takes for you to come back up (for us it took around 25 mins down and 50 mins back up) because of the altitude, elevation and parts of the trail that mimic walking on sand.

Make sure that you eat a wholesome meal and are well hydrated before making your way onto this hike – if you're not at the top of your game it just becomes that much harder.

After coming back up to the trail to the parking lot, you can drive up to the summit and find a spot to sit and watch the sunset. There's an observatory if you want to be sheltered from the winds, but the best views are often from outside. Dress very warmly as it becomes extremely cold as the sun goes down! You'll want to be able to focus on the awe-inspiring events taking place in front of you.

Watch for symptoms: dizziness, headaches, nausea, and shortness of breath. It is recommended that you consult with your doctor before visiting and hiking if you are pregnant or have heart or respiratory conditions. Stay safe!

Pack List

  • Lots of water
  • Snacks and energy/protein bars
  • Layered clothing
  • Warm, windproof jacket
  • Hat/toque and warm gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Blankets for sunset
  • Camera gear
  • GorillaPod
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RT Distance 2 Miles
Elevation Gain 1500 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Groups
Scenic
Wildlife

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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