Hundreds of people flock to Haleakalā National Park every day for the opportunity to watch the blood-red sun emerge through the misty, tropical clouds at sunrise. Why not forego the lines in favor of a better experience and stay the night?
Hosmer Grove Campground is one of two drive-in campgrounds in the park (amid a number of backcountry sites), and it’s the closest to the Haleakalā summit. It’s situated inside the cloud belt at 7,000 feet on the north end of the crater, making it a unique experience — oftentimes the temperature can hang below freezing at night and sweep up toward 70 degrees during the day. With amenities such as picnic tables, barbecues, drinking water and pit toilets, it’s the first choice for families and people hoping to get up to the summit for sunrise.
The catch: The 10-site campground is first-come, first-served. Aim for early weekdays and you’ll have a better chance to snag yourself a site.
A short, half-mile interpretive trail makes its way through a surprisingly lush forest just outside of the campground. This quiet grove is inhabited by a remarkable variety of trees thanks to the campground’s namesake, Ralph Hosmer. Back in 1910, Hosmer dreamt of both introducing a prolific timber industry to the island and establishing a more stable watershed. Though the timber industry never quite took hold like he might have hoped, his legacy lives on in this lovely grove full of eucalyptus trees from Australia, sugi pine from Japan, deodar from India, Douglas fir and a number of different species of pine from mainland United States, among others.