This stunning national park offers a variety of options for campers throughout its diverse landscape: car camping at Hosmer Grove halfway up the summit or at Oheo Gulch in Kipahulu; pitching a tent in the central Haleakala wilderness; or cozying up in one of the crater’s historic cabins. Car and tent camping are free (aside from the $25 park entrance fee). No permit is required, but there’s a 3-night limit. The cabins cost a flat $75, whether you rent them for 1 or 12 people.
Hosmer Grove, located at 6,800 feet, is a small, open grassy area surrounded by forest and frequented by native Hawaiian honeycreepers. Trees protect campers from the winds, but nights still get very cold; sometimes there’s even ice on the ground up here. Bring an insulated sleeping bag, a mat to put under it, and layered clothing. Still, this is an ideal spot to spend the night if you want to see the Haleakala sunrise. Come up the day before, enjoy the park, take a day hike, and then turn in early; after sunrise, enjoy the sound of native birds on the self-guided nature trail. Facilities include a covered pavilion with picnic tables and grills, chemical toilets, and drinking water; sites are first come, first served, and are limited to 50 people. On the other side of the island, Kipahulu Campground is in the Kipahulu section of Haleakala National Park. You can set up your temporary home at a first-come, first-served drive-in campground with tent sites for up to 100 people near the ocean. Tip: Get here early in the day to snag one of the secluded oceanfront sites under a shady hala tree. The campground has picnic tables, barbecue grills, and chemical toilets—but no potable water, so bring your own. Bring a tent as well—it rains 75 inches a year here. Call the Kipahulu Ranger Station (tel. 808/248-7375) for local weather updates.
Inside the volcano are two wilderness tent-camping areas: Holua, in shrubland just off the Halemauu Trail, 3.7 miles from its trailhead; and Paliku, near the Kaupo Gap at the lush, foggy, and often rainy eastern end of the valley, 10.4 miles from the Halemauu trailhead. Both are well over 6,000 feet in elevation and chilly at night. Facilities are limited to pit toilets and nonpotable catchment water, which must be treated before drinking. Water at Holua is limited, especially in summer. No open fires are allowed inside the volcano, so bring a stove if you plan to cook. Tent camping is restricted to the signed area and is not allowed in the horse pasture or the inviting grassy lawn in front of the cabins. Permits are issued at park headquarters daily from 8am to 3pm on a first-come, first-served basis on the day you plan to camp; bring a photo ID. Occupancy is limited to 25 people in each campground (groups may be no larger than 12 persons each).
Also inside the volcano are three wilderness cabins built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Each has 12 padded bunks (bring your own bedding), a table, chairs, cooking utensils, a two-burner propane stove, and a woodburning stove with firewood kept in an outside locker; pit toilets and nonpotable water (filter or treat before drinking) are nearby. The cabins are spaced so that each one is a nice hike from the next: Holua cabin is 3.7 miles down the zigzagging Halemauu Trail, Kapalaoa cabin is 5.5 miles down the Sliding Sands (Keoneheehee) Trail, and Paliku cabin is the farthest, at 9.3 miles down Sliding Sands and across the moonscape to the crater’s eastern end. In spring and summer, the endangered ‘ua‘u (Hawaiian dark-rumped petrel) can be heard yipping and chortling on their way back home to their cliffside burrows. You can reserve cabins up to 6 months in advance on the park’s reservation website (tel. 877/444-6777). You’re limited to 2 nights in one cabin and 3 nights total in the wilderness each month. Note: All wilderness campers must watch a 10- minute orientation video at the park’s visitor center.