On February 1, 2017, Haleakalā NP successfully launched a new sunrise reservation system for park visitors traveling in personal or rental vehicles. The system was implemented to ensure visitor and employee safety, protect natural and cultural resources, and provide a quality visitor experience at the Haleakalā summit during sunrise hours (3am to 7am).
Many park visitors expressed preference for the new reservation system over the previous first come – first served process. “I got to sleep in until 4am since I knew I had a reserved parking space, instead of waking up even earlier and trying for a spot,” said one Maui resident. “More rest for us and it wasn’t as crowded.”
Sunrise visitors and staff commented on how peaceful and enjoyable the sunrise was. “Sunrise is always beautiful. Now park visitors can enjoy it with more space, peace, and quiet,” said chief of interpretation Polly Angelakis.
Multi-lingual signage announcing the new system have been placed at the airport and in numerous other locations. Several electronic message boards along the state highway advise visitors of the requirement for sunrise viewing reservations. Park rangers are greeting visitors and checking reservations before sunrise near the park entrance. On February 1, only 35 arriving cars did not have reservations. On February 2, 33 cars did not have reservations.
“This rollout has been successful so far due to the combined efforts of many, including the media, kupuna, the Maui Visitors Bureau, Kahului Airport, and the State Highways Division,” said park superintendent Natalie Gates. “We all worked together to make sure visitors and residents were notified early and in as many locations as possible. We are pleased with the rollout so far.”
“Sunrise visitors should make reservations, online, up to 60 days ahead of time. They will not be able to make a reservation at the park,” Gates added. “All 150 of our February 1st sunrise reservations were sold out. Tickets may sell out earlier during holidays or times of high visitation so we are encouraging all our visitors, locals and tourists alike, to plan ahead.”
The one-day, non-transferable $1.50 sunrise reservation is not sold at the park. It is only available online at recreation.gov, from 60 days in advance until 4pm the day before a planned visit. After 4pm, no more reservations are offered (for the next day’s sunrise). To enter the Summit District between 3am and 7am, the reservation holder must be present and show both the one-day sunrise reservation receipt (for that day) and a photo ID (matching the reservation name). There is no refund or exchange of the reservation due to inclement weather or change of plans. The park’s current policy for Kanaka Maoli conducting cultural practices in the park remains unchanged. There is also no change to the park’s current Commercial Use Authorization policy regarding sunrise tours.
The park entrance fee is separate and payable by credit card or park pass on the day of visit.
In summer 2016 the park gathered public input on options regarding sunrise visitor management. This interim reservation system was deemed the best short-term option. In 2017, the park will begin developing a long-term Sunrise Summit Visitor Management Plan (Environmental Assessment), and will again welcome public comments. The long term plan will begin in late 2018 or early 2019, after the Environmental Assessment process is completed.