Upcountry Maui is just that: up. Way up. The summit of Mount Haleakala is over 10,000 feet. Zero to ten thousand in 33 miles!
The entire trip upcountry is like entering another world; through a camera lens you might think you're in northern California Mountains or western Wyoming ranch land. Always, up ahead, looms a summit that seems to move away as you approach.
Sweeping pasture lands slope gently up the middle elevations where cattle and horses graze as if they were the happiest animals on earth. Makawao is home to the Historic Hookipa Inn (an affordable Maui bed and breakfast) and an annual paniolo (cowboy) rodeo which many rodeo enthusiasts from the mainland describe as "very different."
Around the 8000 foot mark you enter Halekala National Park and the terrain begins to change rapidly. You pass through a few tall stands of trees then break through to an eery world of sloping cliffs of lava rocks, ash, and cinder. The Martian-like landscape is often shrouded in a mist in which, when conditions are right, you can see your shadow as a rainbow!
If you can get up for the drive (give yourself 3 hours from Kihei, or stay upcountry), sunrise at Haleakala is a spiritual experience for many. You can even rideglide is a better verbback to sea level!
Hiking trails through the crater are best described as "otherworldy." Once inside the crater, you'll realize that the island of Manhattan really could fit inside, with room to spare. You can even enter the lottery to win a night in one of the two cabins within the crater itself.
Once the sun is up and you've unthawed (temperatures on Haleakala summit often fall below freezing), make a left when you get back to the bottom of Crater Road. You'll be going south on the 377 (Kula Highway) toward Keokea and Ulupalakua, where Maui's best-known and historic winery offers tours.
Hey, you've come this far, why not head up to Polipoli State Park for sweeping views, a range of trails for beginners and pros, and abundant, high altitude, Hawaiian flora and fauna. If you'd like, and you're driving a four-wheel drive, keep heading south on 377, which becomes the 31, and goes around the wild and rugged south shore of Haleakala all the way to Hana.
We have more spectacular upcountry Maui photographs at Hawaii-stuff.com!
Cherie writes about upcountry Maui in her Maui blog!
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Click here to descend into a dense, tropical jungle that blankets the weathered east side of Haleakala!
Check out our free desktop wallpaper pictures page where you can see even more photographs of Maui to use as your desktop wallpaper!
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