Haleakalā National Park
Haleakalā National Park on the island of Maui is a rich, 30-thousand acre tapestry of biodiversity that begins at Haleakalā Volcano’s 10,023ft. summit and cascades down to the sea at Kīpahulu District’s black volcanic sands. More than 24,000 acres of wilderness area provide exploration opportunities ranging from high altitude cinderlands to lush coastal rainforest. Protected within Haleakalā National Park’s boundary fences are endemic Hawaiian species such as the elegant ʻāhinahina (Haleakalā silversword), the ʻōpeʻapeʻa (Hawaiian hoary bat), the Haleakalā flightless moth, rare ʻiliʻahi (sandalwood trees) and colonies of nesting seabirds. Visitors to the park in the summer and fall may hear the eerie yapping and moaning calls of the uʻau (Hawaiian dark-rumped petrels) as they return to their breeding colony in the walls of the summit valley. Haleakalā is the only national park that is entirely fenced, a necessary action once non-native hoofed animals such as domestic goats and Indian axis deer became established on the island in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Cultural sites within the boundaries of the park attest to habitation by many generations of Native Hawaiians, and the summit is considered sacred ground. Cultural practitioners still visit the summit to chant, hula, or make offerings. Heiau, (temples) dating to the pre-contact era are found throughout the designated Wilderness area but are off-limits to hikers. The same footpaths that brought travelers over the summit in the past are now available for day or overnight hikers. Because of the crystal clarity of the air at elevation, Haleakalā summit is one of the best places in the world from which to watch the stars, as the nearby telescope complex attests. Hawaiian navigators also once used the summit to learn the stars.
Haleakalā National Park won International Biosphere Reserve designation in 1980.