Drive to Haleakala in 3 Steps

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Aloha! If you’re visiting Maui, then that means you might be planning to take a drive up the famous Haleakala mountain, a dormant volcanic crater well known for its spectacular views and unique wildlife. It’s important to make sure you’re ready for the journey as there are no restaurants or gas stations within the park grounds. Whether you’re driving up for the sunrise or just hoping for a day of clear skies and breathtaking views, it pays to be prepared. Follow these three steps to make your trip easier, so you can focus on enjoying the summit of Haleakala!


Near the summit of Haleakala. On a clear day, the views from the mountain are breathtaking. Photo by Stephan Jola

Step 1: Bring Warm Clothes, Water, and Food

There are no gas stations or restaurants near the summit or within the park, so bring supplies!

  • Pack about a gallon of water for each person going on the drive. The only source of water once you’re in the park is tap water and water fountains at the summit visitor area.
  • Bring food and keep it in a cooler, it can still get warm during the drive. There are no picnic tables at the summit so you may want to pack finger food.
  • Dress warmly, and in layers. You’ll be facing a wide range of temperatures, from the mid 80s at the base of the mountain, to as low as 30°F at the summit.


Rain is a common occurrence on Maui, and Haleakala is no exception. Photo by Matheus Bertelli

Step 2: Make Sure Your Vehicle is up to the Task

Double-check that your vehicle is in sound working condition before you go. You don’t want to be caught with car troubles in the middle of your fun trip to Haleakala. Follow these points and you won’t get caught at the summit with an overheating “Maui Cruiser” like the author did!

  • The roads can get wet and slippery, and even icy on rare occasions, so make sure your tire treads are in excellent condition.
  • Rain is common, good windshield wipers are a must. Here’s how to change a windshield wiper.
  • The fog can set in quite thick, so drive slow, and make sure your headlights, brake lights, and turn signals are all functioning properly.
  • The drive is steep and takes a while, so your car will be working hard. Ensure your engine is topped off on fluids and is in good condition.
  • Respect the posted speed limits. They are there to protect local endangered species, and your safety.


Getting a car wash just before visiting Haleakala National Park is important in protecting local wildlife. Photo by Julie B

Step 3: Take your Vehicle to the Car Wash!

After the mechanical concerns are all squared away, it’s time to look at the cleanliness of your car. Don’t worry, it’s not about car enthusiasts judging you for having a dirty car at 10 thousand feet, it’s about reducing the spread of invasive species in Haleakala’s unique ecosystem. Tiny invasive organisms such as insects, seeds, fungi, and even bacteria can have a damaging effect on the native species (Some of which are unique only to Haleakala!). To protect the native ecosystem it’s an excellent idea to wash your car just before you make the drive.

  • Get a thorough car wash with soap and water to clean off all the organisms that may be clinging to your car.
  • Make sure the car wash has a tire cleaning function–Tires touch every surface you visit and pick up all kinds of things in the mud, dirt, and water you drive over. Tires are the biggest spreaders of invasive species on your vehicle, so make sure they’re clean before you drive to the park.
  • If possible, wash the undercarriage of your car. Just like the wheels, this part sees a lot of dirt and debris that can carry along unwanted guests.


Most importantly, enjoy Maui’s Haleakala National Park! Photo by Jay Martens

Mahalo nui loa for reading about how to prepare your car for a trip to Maui’s beautiful Haleakala crater! If we could include one more step, it would be to remember your camera and charging cables! If you’d like to learn more about Haleakala National Park, and more prep tips, visit the official website. And if you’re looking for a car wash that’s on the way to Haleakala, try Maui Express Car Wash. Aloha, a hui hou!


About the Author:

Julie is Maui Oil Company's Social Media and SEO Specialist.
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