Haleakala National Park: America's most breathtaking sunrise


Good day, sunshine!

Why does it seem like all of the world's most spectacular views require extra effort to see? Are they beautiful because we've gone the extra mile to see them, or are we going the extra mile because they're beautiful? Ponder this question as you're driven up to the top of the Haleakala crater in Haleakala National Park very early in the morning-- you'll have to wake up pretty early if you want to catch the sun rise over the volcanic crater: it's said to be one of the most stunning sunrises in the world.

It is nice that you can have a tour guide pick you up at your hotel and drive you up to the top of Haleakala, a massive shield volcano that makes up three quarters of the island of Maui. From the summit, you can look down into the crater; the barren, colorful landscape below is a stark reminder that Hawaii is incredibly volcanically active. But the main attraction here isn't the lava-- it's the sunrise.

"Haleakala" is Hawaiian for "House of the Sun", and according to local lore, the grandmother of demigod Maui lived in the crater. Maui's grandmother helped him capture the sun and forced it to stay in the crater, thus slowing its journey across the sky and lengthening the day-- so it's safe to say that for as long as people have been living on Maui, they've been appreciating the sunrise view that only Haleakala can provide. Even Mark Twain was lucky enough to witness the colorful morning event in 1866, saying that it was "the most sublime spectacle I have ever witnessed, and the memory of it will remain with me always."

There are a few reasons that the sunrise from Haleakala is exceptional, the vantage point from the mountain being only one. The air atop the volcano is also more clear and still and dry than most other places, and the sun's rays don't have to compete with bright lights from cities and towns, since the park (and the island itself) is comparatively remote-- Haleakala is renowned for its stargzing for these same reasons. Add that to the fact that you're literally above the clouds, and it all make for one hell of a sunrise.

Pro tips: though it may seem counter-intuitive, since you're in Hawaii, but you'll need to bundle up for the early morning trip, since it'll be quite cold. On your way back, keep your eyes peeled for silverswords, a rare and beautiful plant native to Haleakala, and stunning views from the Puu Ulaula Overlook.

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Header via travelmedianinja.com

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This was originally written for Roadtrippers, a great resource for anyone interested in travel.
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