This stunning national park offers a variety of options for campers throughout its diverse landscape: car camping at Hosmer’s 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. The first three 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. 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. Facilities include a covered pavilion with picnic tables and grills, chemical toilets, and drinking water.
On the other side of the island, Oheo 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 100 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 (808/248-7375) for local weather.
Inside the volcano are two wilderness tent-camping areas: Holua, just off the Halemauu Trail and Paliku, 10 miles away, near the Kaupo Gap at the eastern end of the valley. Both are well over 6,000 feet in elevation and chilly at night. Facilities are limited to pit toilets and nonpotable catchment water. 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. Occupancy is limited to 25 people in each campground.
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 wood-burning stove with firewood. 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 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. Some campers and hikers exit through the Kaupo Gap—8.6 miles to the remote Piilani Highway. You can reserve cabins up to 6 months in advance on the park’s reservation website (www.recreation.gov; 877/444-6777). You’re limited to 2 nights in 1 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.