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Haleakala Crater Vistas

Haleakala National Park

Facts About Haleakala
Haleakala Crater Vistas
Haleakala Landscapes
Plants and Animals
Haleakala History
Haleakala Weather

Hawaiian Volcanoes
Origin of Volcanoes
Life Stages of Volcanoes
Haleakala Through Time
Haleakala Eruption History

Haleakala Scenic Views
Makahiku Falls
Palikea Stream
Pools of Oheo
Tidal Pools
Historic Site

Haleakala Birds
Native Birds
Ground Nesting Birds
Non-Native birds

Haleakala Plants
Native Plants
Rainforest Plants

Haleakala Hiking Trails
Hiking Guides
Short Walk
Half-Day Hikes
Full-Day Hikes

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© Maui Downhill
Sunrise from Haleakala Visitor Center
There is a legend that tells how Maui a Polynesian demigod snared the sun because it was moving too quickly across the sky for fruits to ripen and for the kapa (a cloth made by women) to dry. Maui climbed Haleakala, lassoed the sun's rays at dawn as they struck the mountaintop and held them fast with his strong ropes. When the sun promised to move more slowly across the sky, Maui released it, but left the ropes attached to the sun's rays to remind the sun of its promise. In the evening as the sun sets, the ropes can be seen stretching from the land to the sky.

© N.P.S.
View East from Haleakala Visitor Center
There are two theories that help explain the formation of Hawaiian volcanoes. First is the plate tectonic theory whereby the earth's crust is broken into plates that move as the earth's mantle circulates in currents below the plates. The plates move relative to one another at average speeds of a few inches a year Hawaii is located on the Pacific Plate, which is moving towards the northwest at a rate of four inches per year. Second is the hot spot theory. A stationary upwelling current rises through the mantle and allows magma to push its way through the crust and reach the surface of the earth. A broad, dome shaped shield volcano is formed from layer after layer of lava reaching the earth's surface, building beneath sea level, and eventually reaching the ocean surface and becoming an island. As the Pacific Plate moves towards the northwest, the volcano is carried away from the hot spot and eventually stops erupting. A new volcano begins forming over the stationary hot spot. This is why Hawaiian volcanoes form a chain of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

© N.P.S.
Haleakala "Crater" from Sliding Sands Trail
The depression at the top of Haleakala is not actually a volcanic crater, but an erosional valley. During a period of inactivity erosion became the dominant force. Wind, ice and water carved the top of Haleakala, which may have been 3,000 feet taller than the summit is today. After the valley was created, Haleakala entered a "renewed volcanism" period. This renewed volcanic activity partially filled the valley with lava flows and small hills called cinder cones. True craters exist at the tops of some of the cinder cones.

© N.P.S.
Cinder Cone and South Rise from Kalahaku
Kalahaku overlook offers a sweeping view of the cinder cones that dot the valley floor of Haleakala. It is estimated that the last eruptions in the summit area may have taken place 700 to 900 years ago. This is difficult to determine because no eruptions in the summit area have been recorded in historic times or in early Hawaiian oral history. However, it is known that the last eruptions of Haleakala took place in about 1790, along the southwest rift zone. These eruptions originated along the flank of Haleakala, near the southern coast of the island, and formed La Perouse Bay.

© N.P.S.
Sunset from Park Headquarters Area
Sunset visitors to Haleakala National Park experience a more peaceful and less crowded atmosphere. Although sunrise tends to be the most popular tourist activity, sunset is just as impressive from many places within the Park. As the sun sets in the west the horizon and clouds change in an amazing display of color.

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