Wilderness Cabins

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Preparing for the Backcountry of Haleakalā National Park

To thoroughly enjoy your backcountry experience at Haleakalā, whether it’s for an hour, a day, or multiple days, you need to be fully prepared. Here are helpful tips for hiking in the backcountry at Haleakalā National Park.

Tip #1: Plan ahead

 Select a route and destination, keeping in mind the distance and ability of other hikers in your group, including kids.  Hiking uphill takes about twice the time it takes to hike downhill.  Check the visitor center for updates on weather or trail conditions.  Always carry a map. Maps are available at www.nps.gov/hale or the visitor center.

Tip #2: Have the right gear and supplies

 Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots with ankle support.  Carry adequate amounts of water and food.  Water is only available at remote cabins, and must be treated.  Dress in layers for a variety of weather conditions.  Use a comfortable backpack.  Pack essential items in a plastic bag inside of your backpack to keep items dry.

Tip #3: Be prepared for emergencies

 There is no cell phone coverage through most of the backcountry. You must be self reliant during emergencies. Help may not be available for hours or days.  Carry a first aid kit, flashlight, signal mirror, and survival gear. Your life might depend on it!

Suggested Hiking Gear: Backpack, Hiking shoes, Water, Food, Raingear, Warm jacket, Synthetic clothing for layering, Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Hat, Flashlight, Map, First aid kit, Medications, Survival kit (signal mirror, matches, knife, compass), Warm sleeping bag, Water filter

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To thoroughly enjoy your backcountry experience at Haleakalā, whether it’s for an hour, a day, or multiple days, you need to be fully prepared. Here are helpful tips for hiking in the backcountry at Haleakalā National Park.


Historic Cabins

The proposal for cabins in Haleakalā Crater was part of the 1935 master plan for the development of the Haleakalā Section of Hawai'i National Park. In 1936, a standard “Haleakalā Shelter Cabin” plan was developed showcasing the NPS rustic style of design that blended structures into the natural environment. It wasn’t until 1937 that the cabins were built by contracted carpenters with Civilian Conservation Corps workers bringing in the materials using mules and horses, as well as hauling supplies on their back. Today, the Hōlua, Kapalaoa and Palikū cabins are still being used as originally intended--to provide accommodation to visitors hiking in the crater. Haleakalā Crater was designated as wilderness in 1976. The Hōlua and Palikū Wilderness campgrounds were developed in the 1970s.


The three cabins are maintained by the National Park Service for visitor use by advanced reservation. The Wilderness cabins are accessible only by trail. To reach the cabins, you must hike a minimum of 3.7 miles (5.9km) to Hōlua, 5.5 miles (8.9km) to Kapalaoa, and 9.3 miles (15km) to Palikū.

Requesting a Cabin:

Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance at 7:00 AM HST. Reservations can be made on www.recreation.gov. Recreation.gov's call center phone number is 1-877-444-6777.

Permit Pick-up:

Your cabin permit must be picked up at Headquarters Visitor Center between 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM on the day you are hiking in. The permittee must bring photo identification.

Each person staying in a cabin is required to watch a 10-minute orientation video at Headquarters Visitor Center.

The cabin permit is NON-TRANSFERABLE. The permittee must be present on the entire trip and is legally responsible for the actions and safety of their group. Each person is limited to a maximum of three (3) nights per 30-day period in Wilderness area campsites and cabins, with no more than 2 nights at any one site. Maximum group size in the wilderness is 12 persons. Groups and/or organizations with more than 12 may not split into smaller groups. Groups may not reserve back-to-back reservations exceeding three (3) nights. The permittee must be an adult age 18 or older, must have photo identification, and must accompany the group using a cabin.

Costs & Cancellations:

There is a flat fee of $75 per night per cabin which accommodates up to 12 people. A $10 service fee per reservation night is charged for any changes to the reservation. Cancellations made more than 21 days in advance of the reservation date will be refunded minus the $10 service fee per night.

Cabin Information:

Hōlua, Kapalaoa, and Palikū cabins are rugged but historic cabins located in Congressionally-designated wilderness. They have limited amenities such as pit toilets and water available near the cabin. The water is non-potable and must be filtered or treated before drinking. Each cabin has a wood-burning stove with limited firewood that must be conserved, cooking utensils, dishes, and 12 padded bunks. In times of drought, cookware will be removed and you must pack in all your water. There is no electricity in the cabins.

All Haleakalā National Park backcountry cabins are rustic wilderness facilities and are not checked by NPS staff daily. Although some amenities, such as propane and firewood, may be available, we cannot guarantee this nor what quantities you will find when you arrive. All wilderness campers should be prepared for cold backcountry conditions with backup cold weather camping gear, portable light sources, and a camp cook stove.

To reduce helicopter noise and impacts to the wildlife and visitors, Haleakalā National Park has implemented a new wood locker system for backcountry cabin users as of November 1, 2018. Each of the park's three cabins are equipped with 18 lockers and each locker contains three logs. Locker combinations are assigned and issed by park staff (one locker combination per night) at the time of the check-in for cabin permits at Headquarters Visitor Center (at 7,000 ft. elevation) in the summit district. Any visitors wanting to pack in more wood can purchase logs and fire starters at the gift store during check-in. Each log weighs 5 lbs.

By using the locker, you are helping the park by:

  • Providing a more reliable supply of logs for cabin users than the current system
  • Saving significant resources (staff time and funds)
  • Reducing safety risks to NPS staff when managing helicopter operations
  • Reducing helicopter trips and resulting impacts of helicopters to wilderness values and endangered species
  • Encouraging responsible energy use by visitors

Hiking off designated trails or taking shortcuts is prohibited. Off-trail hiking causes erosion and damages fragile life forms. Bicycles and other wheeled transportation are not permitted. Horses and mules are permitted at Palikū and Hōlua. Quiet hours are 8:00 PM to 8:00 AM. Please respect the privacy of others camping around you and leave the site in the same or better condition that you found it.

It is the permittee's responsibility to ensure that the members of their group are appropriately equipped and properly prepared for hiking at altitude and in extreme weather conditions (heavy rain, high winds) and can hike/backpack up to 10 miles one way to the reserved cabin(s).


Prepare for your trip

The Wilderness Area is remote and experiences unpredictable weather. Temperatures vary from 40-70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 30-50 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Plan for rain at all times of year. If it is stormy, winds can exceed 80 miles per hour with temperatures dropping well below freezing.

Hiking trails may be steep. Terrain may include loose cinders and/or rocks. Change in altitude can be from a high of 9,780ft to a low of 6,380ft.

Allow for adequate travel time.

Essential Backpacking Gear:

  • first aid kit
  • trail map
  • emergency food supply, cookstove, fuel, utensils (open fires are prohibited)
  • flashlight & extra batteries
  • biodegradable soap, toilet paper
  • signaling device (mirror, etc.)
  • minimum 3 to 4 quarts/liters water per person/day
  • tent/bivy sack
  • broken-in sturdy boots, moleskin
  • sunglasses, sunscreen, hat
  • sleeping bag
  • rain pants and jacket

NOTE: There may be other equipment necessary for your particular destination. Check with rangers for specific campground, cabin, and trail recommendations!

Minimum Impact Camping
All hikers are required to pack out everything they pack in. Do not bury your trash or discard it in pit toilets - pack it out. Practice "leave no trace" camping.

We do not have streams in the park. Campgrounds have water catchment tanks (rain water collected from metal shelter roofs). This water must be treated before consuming. Check with rangers on water levels when obtaining your permit!

Trail Conditions
Hiking over rocky terrain is strenuous. Hiking boots provide the best traction and protection when hiking on lava. Long pants afford some protection if one should fall.

Sunlight may be intense. Hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are preventive measures against sunburn. Start your trek early.

Health Hazards
Many hikes are through exposed lava fields and lush rain forests. Pace yourself, drink plenty of water. Pack extra clothing and your sleeping bag in plastic for waterproofness. Raingear is essential. Stay warm and dry; hypothermia (low body temperature) is a killer.

Fire Hazards
Trails in the park traverse areas which contain very flammable grasses and brush. Open fires are prohibited.

Natural Resources
Help us protect your National Park. All plants, animals, rocks and other natural and archaeological or cultural features are protected by law against removal, injury, or destruction.

Cultural Resources
Please respect all archaeological sites and artifacts left by ancient Hawaiians. Do not move any rocks, climb on or alter any rock structures, such as lava trees, walls, heiau (ancient temples), or petroglyphs (rock engravings). Entry into caves is prohibited.

Special Note:
Dogs and firearms are prohibited in the wilderness.

Before you go, leave a trip plan with another person. Make sure they understand that should you be lost or injured on the trail, they are your only link to help and should report you overdue if you fail to contact them by a predesignated time.
If lost, stay where you are. Use bright colors and reflective materials to attract attention.

To report a lost or overdue hiker, call Park Dispatch at (808) 985-6170.

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Prepare for your trip by viewing Haleakalā NP's Leave No Trace™ video in advance.

Last updated: September 9, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Haleakalā National Park
PO Box 369

Makawao, HI 96768


(808) 572-4400

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