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House of the Sun
Maui’s Haleakala National Park is the stuff of dreams and legend. According to ancient Hawaiians, the demigod Maui imprisoned the sun here. Hence, the park’s name means “house of the sun.”
The park is divided into two distinct sections. To the west, the Kipahulu area stretches along the coast. The park’s main attraction, however, lies to the east. Haleakala’s dormant volcano rises above the landscape. At the top, an enormous crater reaches 7 miles long, 2 miles wide, and 2,600 ft deep. Inside the crater, large cinder cones stand sentry, as if guarding the sun for the gods.
In addition to the volcanic majesty, wildlife abounds. Native Hawaiian birds, like the ‘i’iwi and apapane inhabit the lower elevations. Meanwhile, the endangered nene is starting to make a comeback after almost becoming extinct.
The western section of this park is not for the meek. That’s because photographers must reach the Kipahulu section by driving hours along the winding coastal road to Hana. However, the spectacular Oheo Gulch makes the journey worthwhile.