Red Hill Haleakala Travel Guide (2023)

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Welcome to Maui, Hawaii!


Check below to learn more about Red Hill Haleakala.


Let’s get started!

Location of Haleakala Red Hill

Red Hill Haleakala is located in Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui, Hawaii. Also known as Puʻu ʻUlaʻula, it stands as the highest point of Haleakalā (“house of the sun”), at a height of 10,023 feet (3,055 meters!).


Haleakala Red Hill features an enclosed observatory, from which you can see the Big Island. On clear days, you might even find yourself standing above the clouds while exploring this magnificent peak.


The views from the top are breathtaking as you look down into a massive depression formed by erosion, filled with deep valleys and gorges.

Haleakala Red Hill
Haleakala Red Hill

Things To Do

Sure, here’s a list of activities you can do at Red Hill Haleakala Mountain:



Explore the diverse trails that lead you through the unique landscapes of Red Hill Haleakala. The Red Hill Summit (0.1 mile is it just a trip around the observatory) and Sliding Sands Trail (11 miles) are among the favorites.


Sunrise/Sunset Viewing

Known as “HOUSE OF SUN,” Red Hill Haleakala offers some of the most stunning sunrise and sunset views in the world. Remember, you need a reservation for sunrise viewing (check our section below).


Testimony: We woke up in the early hours of the morning and made the drive to the summit. It was quite chilly, so I was glad we’d dressed warmly. As the first rays of light began to peek over the horizon, the sky transformed into an array of colors, from deep purples and blues to fiery oranges and pinks. It was breathtakingly beautiful and it felt like we were on another planet.

Sunrise at red hill haleakala
Sunrise at red hill haleakala

Star Gazing

The Red Hill Haleakala Observatory on the summit is one of the WORLD’S MOST IMPORTANT OBSERVATORIES. It’s an ideal spot for stargazing because of its high elevation and clear skies.



With its unique landscapes and panoramic views, it’s a paradise for photographers.



Experience the thrill of biking down the Haleakala Volcano after watching the sunrise at the summit.

Stargazing at Red Hill Haleakala
Stargazing at Red Hill Haleakala

Bird Watching

Haleakala National Park is home to several native Hawaiian bird species. The Hosmer Grove area is a great place for bird-watching.



There are two wilderness campsites within the park: Holua and Paliku. You need to get a permit for wilderness camping.

Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park

Ranger-Led Programs

The park offers a variety of ranger-led programs that provide insight into the park’s geology, wildlife, and cultural history.


Visit the Visitor Centers

There are three visitor centers in Haleakala National Park – the Park Headquarters Visitor Center, the Haleakala Visitor Center near the summit, and the Kipahulu Visitor Center on the coastal side of the park.

Driving up the red hill haleakala mountain


To reach the Summit District, where Red Hill is located, one can drive from Kahului via Route 37 to 377 to 378. The driving time to the summit from Kahului is approximately 2.5 hours, and from Wailea it’s around 3 hours!


Best time to visit Haleakala Red Hill

Best Time of Day

Sunrise: Many visitors choose to visit Red Hill Haleakala for sunrise, which is truly spectacular. Remember, you need to make a RESERVATION (check below) in advance for sunrise viewing.


Daytime: Visiting during the day allows you to enjoy the panoramic views and take part in various activities such as hiking and bird watching. Remember, the sun can be intense, so bring sun protection.


Sunset and Night: Sunset is another beautiful time to visit, with fewer crowds than sunrise. After sunset, stay for stargazing if the night is clear.

Red Hill haleakala

Best Time of Year

Winter (December – February): If you enjoy cooler temperatures, winter is a great time to visit with the most amazing views! However, keep in mind that it can get quite cold at the summit, especially in the early morning or late evening, so dress accordingly.

Summer (June – August): This is a popular time for tourists, so expect more crowds. The weather is typically warm, but it can still be chilly at the summit.

Red Hill Haleakala Observatory
Red Hill Haleakala Observatory

Entrance fee for the Haleakala National Park!

The entrance fee for Haleakala National Park, where Red Hill is located, is $30 per private vehicle or $15 per individual if entering by foot, bicycle, or motorcycle. The pass is valid for 3 DAYS.


There is also an option to purchase a Tri-Park Annual Pass for $55 which grants unlimited entry to Haleakala National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park for one year.


Also, these fees are subject to change, so it’s always a good idea to check the official National Park Service website for the most current information before your visit.

Sands trail at the Haleakala Mountain
Sliding sands trail at the Haleakala Mountain

Make a reservation!

You must reserve your spot if you want to visit Red Hill Healakala before sunrise. The reservation system was implemented to ensure visitor safety and protect natural and cultural resources by limiting the number of visitors during sunrise hours (3:00 am to 7:00 am).


Here’s how you can make a reservation:

  1. Go to the website.
  2. Search for “Haleakala National Park Sunrise”.
  3. Follow the instructions to make a reservation.


Please note that the reservation fees for the park are separate from the sunrise viewing reservation fee ($1.00 per vehicle) that is required. It’s recommended to make your reservation as soon as possible because spots fill up quickly.

Haleakala Mountain

Where To Stay

We love using for hotels. Their website is easy to use, you immediately know when you have to pay (we always pay at the accommodation itself, never in advance), and sometimes you’ll even get breakfast FOR FREE!

Below you can find different options according to your taste!



Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa, A Waldorf Astoria Resort: This 5-star resort in Wailea offers luxury suites, a pool, and a restaurant with panoramic ocean views. It’s about an hour’s drive from Haleakala National Park.

Grand Wailea Resort
Grand Wailea Resort

Mid Budget

Maui Coast Hotel: Situated in Kihei, this hotel features well-appointed rooms, two pools, and a restaurant. It’s less than an hour’s drive to the national park.

Maui Coast Hotel
Maui Coast Hotel


Hosmer Grove Campground: This is the nearest campground to the summit of Red Hill Haleakala. It’s a drive-up campground with picnic tables and BBQ grills. Remember, it can get cold at night, so come prepared.


Travel Packages you can book

Whenever we book a tour, we book it either via a local travel partner or via Get Your Guide. Check out their tour below!


You will travel to the summit of Haleakalā National Park to view Maui’s amazing sunrise on a guided day trip.


You’ll be transported in comfort with Maui’s newest fleet of guided tour vehicles with large viewing windows, comfortable seating, and climate-controlled interiors. You even get to enjoy the history of Haleakalā National Park, its fauna and flora, which highlights the cultural significance of the area! This tour is all-in, including a delicious breakfast at a luxury lodge close by.


Check below for more information!


Below you can find restaurants close to Red Hill Haleakala:



  1. Kula Lodge & Restaurant: This restaurant offers panoramic views and a varied menu with many locally sourced ingredients. It’s about a 30-minute drive from the Haleakala Visitor Center.
  2. Hali’imaile General Store: A bit further away (about an hour’s drive), this upscale restaurant serves Hawaiian regional cuisine in a plantation-era building.


Mid Budget:

  1. Kula Bistro: About a 40-minute drive from the park, Kula Bistro offers Italian-inspired dishes with a local twist.
  2. Pukalani Superette: A casual, family-owned market and deli serving plate lunches. It’s about a 50-minute drive from Red Hill Haleakala.



  1. Grandma’s Coffee House: Located in Kula, about a 35-minute drive from the park, this coffee shop serves breakfast, sandwiches, and homemade pastries.
  2. Tamura’s Fine Wine & Liquors: About an hour’s drive from the park in Kahului, Tamura’s has a poke bar offering fresh poke bowls, a popular Hawaiian dish.

Red Hill Haleakala

Nearby Attractions 

Not tired of watching the sunrise? Check out the list below with nearby attractions!


Haleakala Crater: This is the world’s largest DORMANT VOLCANO. The crater measures 7.5 miles long, 2.5 miles wide, and around 3,000 feet deep. The landscape is barren but beautiful, with cinder cones dotting the floor of the crater. It’s also a great place for stargazing due to its high altitude and lack of light pollution.


Hosmer Grove: Located at an elevation of 7,000 feet, this grove is home to a unique mix of native and non-native TREES. The area is named after Ralph Hosmer, who planted the grove in the early 20th century in an attempt to establish a timber industry in Maui. The grove now serves as a habitat for several native BIRD SPECIES.

Sunrise at Red Hill Haleakala
Sunrise at Red Hill Haleakala

Kula Botanical Garden: Spread over 8 acres, this GARDEN is home to many tropical plants, including proteas, bromeliads, and orchids. There’s also a koi pond, waterfalls, and a bird sanctuary. It’s a peaceful place to stroll and enjoy the beauty of nature.


Maui Wine: Founded in 1974, this winery is located in ‘Ulupalakua, one of the most beautiful and unique areas of Maui. Besides PINEAPPLE WINE, they also produce estate wines from locally grown grapes. They offer tastings and tours where you can learn about their winemaking process.


Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm: Situated at an elevation of 4,000 feet, this farm grows 45 DIFFERENT VARIETIES OF LAVENDER. Visitors can take guided tours, stroll through the lavender fields and gardens, and purchase a variety of lavender products at their gift shop.


Pukalani Country Club: This 18-hole golf course offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Haleakala. The course is 6,882 yards long and features rolling terrain and cool upcountry breezes. The name “Pukalani” means “gateway to heaven,” which aptly describes the beautiful scenery you’ll find here.

Observatory Red Hill Haleakala
Observatory Red Hill Haleakala

Final Tips and Tricks

Here are some final tips and tricks to make your visit AWESOME!


  • Dress Appropriately: Even though Maui is known for its tropical weather, the temperature at Haleakala can be quite chilly, especially in the early morning or late evening. Dress in layers so you can adjust as needed, and don’t forget a warm jacket.
  • Protect Yourself from the Sun: The sun can be intense at high altitudes. Bring a hat, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen.
  • Stay Hydrated and Bring Snacks: There are no food or drink facilities in the park, so bring plenty of water and some snacks.
  • Prepare for Altitude: The summit of Red Hill is over 10,000 feet high. If you’re not used to high altitudes, take it slow and give your body time to adjust.
  • Respect the Environment: Stay on designated trails and don’t remove any rocks or plants.
  • Start Early: If you’re planning to watch the sunrise, be sure to get there early, as parking spaces can fill up quickly.
  • Bring a Camera: The views are spectacular, so you’ll definitely want to take photos.
  • Check the Weather: The weather can change rapidly, so check the forecast before you go.



It’s a wrap for this guide!


Hopefully, by sharing our experience, you will know exactly how to plan this trip!


If you have any burning questions, drop us a comment, and we’ll do our best to help!



red hill haleakala weather

The weather at Red Hill Haleakala can be unpredictable and change rapidly. Temperatures can range from 30 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 to 15 degrees Celsius). It can be sunny one moment and cloudy the next, with occasional rain showers. It’s recommended to check the weather forecast before your visit.


can you drive up haleakala

Yes, you can drive up to the summit of Haleakala. The drive takes about 2 hours from central Maui, and the road is well-paved. However, it’s a winding mountain road, so drive carefully. There’s a parking lot at the summit.


how to visit haleakala

Haleakala National Park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, to visit the park between 3 am and 7 am for sunrise viewing, you need to make a reservation in advance. You can make reservations online up to 60 days in advance. It’s also recommended to bring warm clothing, food, and water, as there are no services in the park.


how to hike haleakala

There are several hiking trails in Haleakala National Park, ranging from short walks to multi-day backpacking trips. Some popular trails include the Sliding Sands Trail and the Halemau’u Trail. Always stay on designated trails, carry plenty of water, and be prepared for changing weather conditions.


how to get reservations for haleakala sunrise

Sunrise viewing reservations can be made online at Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance and are released at 7 a.m. HST. A limited number of last-minute tickets are released two days ahead of time. There’s a small fee for each vehicle, in addition to the park entrance fee.

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Laura & Alexander

Laura & Alexander

We're two full-time Belgian travellers sharing our experience through our blog. Our aim is to inspire your next travel adventure with our best tips and tricks from every country we visit.

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