Visitor Center View at 9,740 ft. (2,970 m) CC BY SA-4.0 / Ekrim Canli
Originally in 1916, the Volcanoes National Park contained Kilauea, Mauna Loa and Haleakala. It took until 1961 for the parks to be split (they are on different islands) and Haleakala National Park was created on Maui. It became an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980. Haleakala translates from Hawaiian to "House of the Sun" and the early settlers believed that the demigod Maui captured the Sun there. Maui wanted the days lengthened and the Sun agreed to slow down.
Haleakala National Park consists of 33.265 acres. 19,270 acres are designated as wilderness. There are 2 major sections to the park, the 10,023 ft summit and the Kipahulu District on the coast. Although connected on the map, it is best to visit the areas separately. Kipahulu protects an ahupua'a. Visitors must drive a very twisty road along the north shore past Hana to reach Maui's southeastern side. There, they will see ocean views, waterfalls, pools and native ecology. Reached by another twisty road, the mountain summit has an observatory and a visitor's center. However, it is the spectacular sunrises and sunsets that draw the most visitors. Due to popularity, the National Park Service is exploring transportation options to reduce the traffic.
Two popular and endangered species in the park are the Nene (a goose that visitors get way too close to) and the Silverswords (a strikingly beautiful plant). While the Nene is found on several of the Hawaiian Islands, the Silverswords are only found at the higher altitudes of Haleakala and in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve of the Big Island.