Wilderness Camping

Open Transcript


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

Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
4 minutes, 2 seconds

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.


To download the preparation list from the video above, please click here.

There are two primitive Wilderness campsites which are accessible only by trail. Permits are required for camping at these sites. Campsite space is available on a first-come, first-served basis for the general public. Special accommodation is made for educational groups and civic groups which may reserve camping space up to 6 months in advance.

Each person is limited to a maximum of 3 nights per 30 day period in the Wilderness Area with no more than 2 nights at any one campsite.

Hōlua and Palikū campsites have a maximum limit of 25 people each with a 12-person group limit. Groups larger than 12 may not split into smaller groups and utilize the Wilderness at the same time. Larger groups MAY split into smaller groups with 12 in the Wilderness, 12 at Hosmer, and 12 at Kīpahulu.

Hōlua and Palikū campsites have pit toilets and water available nearby. The water is non-potable and must be filtered or treated before drinking. In times of drought, all water must be carried in.

Helicopter operations may be occurring on an intermittent basis this summer beginning at 7AM. Expect elevated noise during this time. Campgrounds and trails will remain open. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Permit pick-up
Camping permits can be obtained at the Headquarters Visitor Center between 8:00am and 3:00pm up to one day in advance. Permits are free and require photo identification and a 10-minute orientation.

Hōlua Campsite
Hōlua, the Wilderness campsite reached by the shortest hike, lies at 6,940 feet (2,115m) in the shrubland near Koʻolau Gap. Hōlua is 3.7 miles (6km) down the Halemauʻu Trail or 7.4 miles (12km) from the Sliding Sand Trailhead. Visitors staying at Hōlua can enjoy day hikes into the central Wilderness Area. The landscape around Hōlua supports a native shrubland which colonizes the lava flows.

Palikū Campsite
At 6,380 feet (1,945m), Palikū is on the east end of the Wilderness valley at the base of a rain forest cliff. The campsite is reached via a strenuous 9.3 mile (15km) hike on the Sliding Sands Trail or 10.4 (17km) on Halemauʻu Trail. Clouds and fog often roll over the top of the cliffs behind Palikū, and rain is common. The extra moisture makes this spot exceptionally cool and lush.

View a general park map.
View a trail map.

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.

Packing List - Necessities:
- Trowel, toilet paper, zippered plastic bags (for carrying out toilet paper)
- Layered, warm clothing (avoid cotton)
- Full rain gear
- Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen/sunblock
- Water bottles (2 liters/person/day)
- Sturdy shoes, extra socks
- Hiking poles
- Water treatment supplies
- Bags for trash
- Tent with rain fly
- Sleeping bag
- First aid kit
- Flashlight or headlamp, extra batteries
- Emergency contact phone numbers

Packing List - Suggested Items:
- Camera
- Slippers or camp shoes
- Toiletries
- Playing card, books
- Backpacking stove, fuel

View Haleakalā NP's Leave No Trace™ video for a glimpse of the unique environment you will be visiting and helpful preparation tips.
Note: Overnight hikers are required to view this video in the visitor center whether or not they have viewed it online.

Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
11 minutes, 58 seconds

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

Last updated: December 19, 2016

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Haleakalā National Park
PO Box 369

Makawao, HI 96768


(808) 572-4400

Contact Us