Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park

Haleakala History


Nearly 1 million years ago, East Maui emerged from the Pacific Ocean. West Maui emerged over 2 million years ago and was one to two kilometers above the sea before Haleakalā rose up. The larger volcano, Haleakalā may have risen as high as 12,000 feet (3,658 m) above sea level (30,000 feet or 9,144 m from the ocean floor) over a period of 500,000 years. 

Wind, water and possibly glaciers carved channels and valleys down the slopes to the island shore. The Ke'anae and Kaupō valleys were formed. Later lava flows partially filled in the basin to form the large "crater." The summit of Haleakalā rises to 10,023 feet (3,055 m) in elevation, above one-third of the Earth's atmosphere. Young cinder cones, eruption sites that are marked by piles of rich, rocky material deposits, dot the basin landscape. 

The most recent volcanic activity occurred between 200 to 400 years ago, where two minor eruptions on the rift zone near the coast of Mākena altered Maui's southwest coastline. With the gradual northwestward shifting of the Pacific Plate, the island of Maui moved away from the "hot spot," a weak area in the earth's crust where magma wells up to the surface and causes eruptions. 

Haleakalā is still considered active, though it remains unknown when it will erupt again. It has been more active in the last 1,000 years than previous 10,000 years.

Park History

Haleakalā, "House of the Sun," holds a sacred place in Hawaiian history. Tradition tells of the early kanaka Hawai'i (Hawaiian people) who sought the isolation of the Haleakalā wilderness for cerimomial purposes, instruction, and family reasons.

The first recorded journey to the summit of Haleakalā by non-Hawaiians was in 1828, and it was not until the early 1900s when Lorrin Thurston, a publisher, and Dr. Thomas A. Jaggar, a scientist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, proposed the area be preserved as a national park. After years of persis-tence, Haleakalā was first established as part of Hawai'i National Park in 1916. 

The Kīpahulu Valley was acquired as additional park territory in 1951, and 10 years later, on July 1, 1961, Haleakalā was declared a separate independent national park.

In 1969, the Kīpahulu coastal area of 'Ohe'o was included, further extending the boundaries of Haleakalā. Today, 24,719 of Haleakalā's 30,183 acres are designated Wilderness. The lush green valleys of Kīpahulu are laced with white waterfalls, and the crater's barren landscape contrasts the dynamic coastline. The unique and fragile ecosystems of Haleakalā continue to be protected and preserved.