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Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
Haleakala is one of two national parks in the Hawaiian Islands. Located on the island of Maui, the park contains one of the most spectacular volcanic craters in the world. Though Haleakala - "the House of the Sun" - is the world's largest dormant volcano, you may not appreciate its full ten thousand feet until you're at the top.
The highway to the top of Haleakala rises higher, at a faster rate, than any road on earth. Starting in rich meadows, it climbs past purple blossoming jacaranda, firs and eucalyptus to reach open ranching land, and then ascends in huge curves to the volcanic desert and the crater itself.
The view of the crater from the rim is affected by the presence of transitory clouds and mists which frequently move across the landscape. This leads to eerie visual effects, hiding and revealing the features intermittently.
The higher reaches of the mountain comprise the national park, which never closes. The crater is almost eight miles across, which was for the ancient Hawaiians a site of deep spiritual power. The best time to come is to view the sunrise. The visitor center at the top operates from dawn until 3 pm. Hiking trails of varying difficulty cross the crater floor, where camping is permitted in three cabins. In addition, 15 to 25 free tent sites outside the crater are available every day.