Haleakalā National Park Opens Section of Keonehe‘ehe‘e Crater Trail for Weekend Use

September 2, 2020, 6:43 AM HST · Updated September 2, 6:47 AM
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Keoneheʻeheʻe (Sliding Sands) Trail. PC: Haleakalā National Park

Haleakalā National Park  is increasing access to park trails, by opening the first 2.5 mile section of the Keoneheʻeheʻe “Sliding Sands” Trail for use from Friday to Sunday. The National Park Service is working with federal, state and local public health authorities to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and is using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Beginning Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, Haleakalā National Park will reopen the following areas: 

  • The park store’s new curbside pick-up services will be available for Labor Day weekend from 7 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. on Fridays, Sept. 4 to Monday, Sept. 7, 2020 at the Headquarters Visitor Center Parking Lot at 7,000 feet. The park store is operated by Hawaiʻi Pacific Parks Association, an official non-profit partner of the National Park Service dedicated to supporting the educational mission of Haleakalā National Park. The park store has a wide range of books, educational games, and posters, and other items available for retail sale. These products complement the interpretive themes you experience when visiting the park. You can make your curbside orders by visiting the online park store for curbside pick-up while in the park or have it delivered to address you choose.
  • The first 2.5 miles (4 km) of the Keoneheʻeheʻe (Sliding Sands) trail is open for day-use, opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 3 p.m., available Friday-Sunday only.
  • In recognition of Labor Day, on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020, starting at 7 a.m. and closing at 3 p.m., the Keoneheʻeheʻe (Sliding Sands) trail will be open for day-use. Then will resume a Friday through Sunday only schedule.

The Keoneheʻeheʻe (Sliding Sands) trail will be open for day-use only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Visitors planning to hike out and back along this trail for a total of 5 miles round trip, should plan to be at the trail head no later than 12 p.m. to ensure they are off trail by 3 p.m. The average time to complete this section of the trail is three hours. The elevation change is 1,300 feet. The trail is steep, rocky, and has uneven surfaces. The NPS will begin closing the trail at the 2.5 mile marker beginning at 1 p.m. to ensure all hikers are off the trail by 3 p.m. and able to exit the park by 5 p.m. when the entrance gate closes. When all crater trails are fully open, hikers often return from crater hikes late in the afternoon or evening.

The Keoneheʻeheʻe (Sliding Sands) is only partially open to ensure day-use only. The park’s daily closure at 5 p.m. is necessary in preventing unsafe crowding at viewpoints for sunset. Further increases in access will be based on continued downward trajectories for COVID-19 cases on Maui and decreasing risks to visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners.

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In addition, the following area continue to be available: 

  • The Kīpahulu District of Haleakalā National Park is open for day-use only Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Trails in the Kīpahulu District open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. include: Pīpīwai Trail and Kūloa Point Trail
  • The Summit District of Haleakalā National Park from the park entrance to the summit at 10,023 ft. elevation is accessible daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Trails in the Summit District open include: Hosmer Grove Trail, Supply Trail from Hosmer Grove to Halemauˈu Trail junction (Halemauˈu trail remains closed), Leleiwi Overlook Trail, and Pā Ka‘oao (White Hill) Trail.
  • Sunrise reservations allow access to the Summit District from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. Sunrise reservations are available on Recreation.gov up to seven days in advance. The cost for a sunrise viewing reservation is $1 per vehicle. Sunrise reservations must be made prior to visiting the park and can only be obtained online through Recreation.gov. For questions about reservations, call the recreation.gov hotline at 1-877-444-6777. A separate entrance fees will be collected upon entry to the park. Visitors with National Park Passes, should bring their pass and ID ready to present at the gate for entry. Visitors without a sunrise reservation will not be admitted to the park and no reservations will be issued at the entrance station.
  • Others points of interest open in the Summit District include: Hosmer Grove Picnic Shelter and Kalahaku Overlook.

With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed: 

  • The Pools of ‘O’heo in the Kῑpahulu District.
  • Haleakalā Crater hiking trails, including overnight and day-use on Halemauʻu and Kaupō trails.
  • Haleakalā Crater hiking trails, including overnight and day-use on Mondays-Thursdays on the Keoneheʻeheʻe (or Sliding Sands) trail.
  • Backcountry cabins and the cabin reservation system, and primitive tent campgrounds at Hōlua and Palikū.
  • There is no access for sunset or overnight activities. Park gates close at 5 p.m. The NPS recommends departing the Summit District no later than 3:30 p.m. to allow adequate drive time to the park entrances before gates close promptly at 5 p.m. The park’s daily closure at 5 p.m. is necessary in preventing unsafe crowding at viewpoints for sunset.
  • All Park Visitor Centers including: Haleakalā Visitor Center at 9,740 feet (public restrooms remain open), Headquarters Visitor Center at 7,000 feet (public restrooms remain open), and Kῑpahulu Visitor Center (public restrooms remain open).
  • Red Hill Observatory at 10,023 feet.
  • Kῑpahulu Campground and Hosmer Grove Campground.

“We look forward to continuing to increase recreational access in Haleakalā crater for our local community over the holiday weekend and beyond,” said Natalie Gates, Superintendent of Haleakalā National Park. “The Keoneheʻeheʻe trail, also known as the Sliding Sands, is a very popular trail known for its extraordinary geologic features and vibrant colors. We appreciate the community’s kokua in recreating responsibly while visiting, bringing face coverings and continuing social distancing,” added Gates.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Haleakalā National Park, our operational approach continues to be centered on examining each facility function and service to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and are regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public areas and workspaces are safe and clean.

A safe and enjoyable park experience begins at home. The NPS encourages visitors to plan their visit by checking the park’s website and social media for current conditions and travel tips. The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We ask the public to be our partner in recreating responsibly, by following CDC and state and local guidance, social distancing, and wearing a face covering.

For those looking for virtual experiences to enjoy the park, the following virtual experiences are available:

Keoneheʻeheʻe (Sliding Sands) Trail. PC: Haleakalā National Park

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