I’ve accumulated all this information about our national parks, and I’m thinking about how I can best put it to use.
I admit that my knowledge about each park is limited because I only spent a single full day in most of them, but broadly speaking I’ve been to the main attractions. I’ve ventured into many less well-known areas. And I’ve talked with hundreds of people – rangers and visitors alike – about what I should to do next time I’m there.
So that’s what I’ve put together: A short description for each park, followed by a list of Must See attractions, Off the Beaten Path adventures, and plans for what I’d like to do Next Time.
So without further ado, I present to you the first installment of my national park “Cliff Notes.” Enjoy.
Haleakala National Park
Taking a detour to the most barren part of Maui’s lush landscape may not be a priority on every Hawaiian vacationer’s to-do list, but it should be.
Haleakala is the dormant shield volcano responsible for 75% of the area of Maui. Visitors who drive up the backside of Haleakala can gaze down the length of its sloping crater from an elevation of 10,000 feet (929 m).
The stars. Haleakala is open 24/7, and the road to the summit provides easy access to world-class stargazing. I clearly remember having the sense that the stars covered more of the sky than the black space between them.
Off the Beaten Path:
The volcanic tuft on Halemau’u Trail near Halali’i Crater is especially colorful, blending between shades of orange, red and purple. Paliku backcountry campsite is as scenic as it is secluded. Hawaii’s state bird, the Nene, nest near Paliku, and a pair wandered through my camp with their goslings in tow.
Accessible only from Maui’s famed Road to Hana, the 400 foot (122 m) Waimoku Falls are a two mile hike from the coastal Kipahulu Visitor Center.
For more information on my visit, check out my post.
Sliding Sands Trail.
Lava rock ridgelines.
Kaupo Ranch. The Kaupo Gap Trail exits the park and continues into the privately owned Kaupo Ranch.