Haleakala National Park - Lookout
Haleakala's beauty is easy to spot... it's all around you! However, there are several proverbial hidden gems in the summit area. One of the best is the Leleiwi Overlook.
To get there, note that at mile marker 17.5 on Hwy 378, inside Haleakala National Park, you'll pull into the parking lot on the right side of the road. The elevation here is around 8,800 ft. Cross the road on foot and take the short trail to the overlook for a panoramic view of the vast crater of Haleakala. Many folks don't even notice this location because at first glance it appears nothing is here. Don't make that mistake!
Look around and you'll notice that the view is very close to a much more distant location- the moon. In fact, NASA has used this area for just that purpose, as the astronauts that landed on the moon trained here.
This gigantic depression is 7.5 miles long (east to west), 2.5 miles wide, and 3,000 ft. deep. The crater is so massive that the entire island of Manhattan could fit inside of it!
You'd swear nothing was here until you hiked down the short trail. Then, suddenly, this scene pops into view before you:
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Sometimes, in the late afternoon, clouds stack up inside the crater and block the view from this location; but don't fret because you might be in for another treat. If this occurs and the sun is behind you, look into the cloudy mist directly away from the sun. You may be one of the lucky people who are able to see the phenomenon called the Specter of the Brocken. Native Hawaiians often will call it the Hookuaka- a view of the soul. Around your shadow in the mist will be a halo of rainbow colors- a beautiful sight, indeed! This same spectacle can sometimes be seen from an airplane window if you are looking down on a cloud top. An apparent rainbow encircles the shadow of the plane. This phenomenon is caused by the small spaces between the cloud droplets (diffraction) rather than by the bending of light rays within the droplets that form a rainbow (refraction).
Also, make note of how the vegetation has changed from near Park Headquarters at the 7,000-foot elevation where you entered the park. Where you once observed mostly low bushes and a sprinkling of lava, at nearly 2,000 ft. higher the landscape has become mostly exposed lava and cinders with scarce patchy vegetation. Be sure to check out our Haleakala summit area stops and elevations page in order to keep track of all the great sights along the way.
Make sure the Leleiwi overlook is a stop on your Haleakala adventure... you'll love what you see!
Nothing beats touring Haleakala and Upcountry Maui with an expert local guide, and these are our handpicked selections for the best Haleakala tours. Zoom down the mountainside on a bicycle. Enjoy a thrilling zipline adventure over a waterfall. Hike until your heart’s content… whether that means a one-mile trek or something more strenuous. Either way, you can book you perfect adventure right here. Just remember that Haleakala is a very popular place and tours can fill up quickly, so book as soon as possible to ensure availability.