We drove to the summit of the Haleakala volcano. The road twists and turns, as it is one of the sharpest vehicular elevation gains in the shortest amount of time in the world. Along the way through the park watch out for Nene, the Hawaiian goose. It is one of the rarest geese in the world, and they love to spend time in the road. Don't run over them. There are only about 800 in the wild. You do not want to be the cause for 799.
We decided to go to the summit on a cloudy day, which we figured was a gamble, because we could arrive at the summit to see nothing at all. However, the clouds began at about 4500 feet of elevation and at about 8000 feet we popped up through the clouds. The mountain itself is just over 10000 feet above sea level. The experience is that of being above the world. What made someone think that a road must be built to the top, evades my understanding, but hey I am not afraid to take advantage of the Great American Tourist Spirit.
At the summit, there are restrooms. There is also the usual National Park gift center, pimping out nature. It is usually quite cold, so take a jacket. Hikes are available into the crater; however, remember that oxygen is a bit harder to find up at this height. Plan accordingly.
On the way down, do not ride your breaks. Use your vehicle's lower gears. It not only makes for a smoother ride, it will save you from learning how to fly.
The way up is through some interesting farmland and eucalyptus forests. There are a few places to stop and look around.
Overall, we knew we were taking a risk going up (and perhaps not seeing anything but clouds), but we were absolutely glad that we did.
The National Park fee is $10 per private car.
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