Haleakala Non-Active Volcano

Also known as: Haleakala National State Park a Non-Active Volcano
Haleakala National State Park Maui

Non-Active Volcano


Haleakala National Park Maui Hawaii

Haleakala National Park - Maui Hawaii this is the top of the crater 2013

Photo taken by SLDdigital in September 2013




Haleakala National Park covers the summit area of the larger of the two volcanic mountains that make up Maui. The National Park’s boundary has fingers that extend down the Hana side of the mountain, all the way to the ocean. (The entire park includes the Kipahulu area, where Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Pools) and Pipiwai Trail are found – this article includes only the Summit Area.) The Legend of Maui Haleakala literally means “House of the Sun.” According to Hawaiian legend, the goddess Hina complained to her son Maui that the sun moved across the sky too fast for her tapa cloth to dry. The next morning before sunrise, Maui went to the top of Haleakala and waited in hiding. When the Sun awoke, Maui lassoed him, and beat him into submission. Maui then made the Sun an offer he couldn’t refuse: he would let the Sun go, but in return the Sun would have to cross the sky much more slowly from that day forward. The Sun agreed, Maui released him, and we’re now blessed with long sunny days! Geologically Speaking Speaking of “crater” this is a good time to explain that the summit area is actually not a typical crater formed by volcanic activity (such as you would see on the Big Island of Hawai’i.) Haleakala Crater is so gigantic because it was formed over eons as the result of erosion of the entire volcanic mountain top. Over this period of time, smaller lava flows back-filled the eroding valley, building up the floor of what is commonly called the Haleakala Crater. The cinder cones that dot the landscape here are the last of these most recent eruptions (and these individually have true volcanic craters.) Like the oft misunderstood prune, there has been an effort to re-brand the Haleakala Crater area something more technically accurate (dried lava-mountain?), but I think the Maui Guidebook will just call it a capital-C “Crater” (as in place name) rather than the longer-winded (and far-less recognized) “Haleakala National Park Summit Area.” Oh, and that dried lava-mountain you’re looking at isn’t actually done erupting yet. Haleakala is dormant, and (geologically speaking) it has erupted fairly recently. You’ll hear most guidebooks quote the more “hey that’s not that long ago” date of 1790, but that date is largely based upon deductions made from a notoriously bad map maker’s map not matching the coastal lines on an accurate map. When subjected to carbon dating, the rocks from that lava flow date to the 1600’s. (I don’t know about you, but my money is on the science nerds.) Haleakala is also expected to erupt several more times in the future. Since geological time is measured in the millions of years, our time on Haleakala (and Earth) is short enough that you can feel secure leaving the heat-reflective lava suit back home in the family fallout shelter. Photography does the panoramic vistas no justice. That dot in the corner is a couple emerging from the Crater on Sliding Sands Trail Stuff to Remember When You Visit Remember to bring your sunscreen, plenty of water, and something else you may have left back home: layers of warm clothing. Overnight (yeah, before sunrise) temperatures can dip below freezing. Even during the day temperatures can be cold enough for a sweatshirt, or even a jacket – especially if you’re not getting any blood moving waiting for the yellow disc to rise above the horizon. Once the sun does rise, there is less atmosphere to scatter and absorb UV rays, so the sun’s skin-burning potential is actually stronger at these higher elevations than it is at the beach. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of the beach and ocean – if you’re a SCUBA diver, the reduced pressure at the altitude of Haleakala is well below that of a pressurized aircraft. So be sure to observe the same degassing time rules you would prior to flying. Also important to remember, if you go for a hike into the Crater, the hike in is deceptively easy. The hike out is another story. The thin air and elements (sun, wind, occasionally rain) means you’ll likely take twice as much time (and way more than twice the effort) to get out than you spent hiking in.

Update Log 

  • November 11, 2014: New photos from SLDdigital
  • October 30, 2014: Added by SLDdigital