Mountaintop Sunrise Attracting Too Big Crowds

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
February 2, 2017US News

Before dawn each morning, throngs of tourists from around the world drive to the top of Maui’s tallest peak, a dormant volcano, to see what Mark Twain called the “sublimest spectacle” he ever witnessed.

They drive up a long, winding road through the clouds to an otherworldly, lava-rock landscape at 10,000 feet. Then they bundle up and take their place for a stunning daybreak show.

“Just the sunrise from the top of the world _ it’s pretty remarkable and incomparable,” Julia Grant of Mission British Columbia, Canada, said on a recent visit as the sky turned from white to yellow to orange.

Over the past year, that experience has been attracting over a thousand people each morning to the summit in Haleakala National Park.

Officials say it’s just become too crowded, with cars spilling out of limited parking lots and onto the road, creating safety hazards while tourists trample sensitive habitat.

To address the problem, the National Park Service as of Feb. 1 started requiring reservations and limiting to 150 the number of vehicles allowed up each morning for sunrise.

Most people seem to like the idea of limiting the crowds, making the spectacular show more serene.

“I think it’s a good idea to limit the number of people up here just so you can actually catch the view and it keeps it a little more peaceful and a little bit more natural,” said Julia Grant, who was visiting recently with her husband from British Columbia.

Under the new system, only those driving to the summit between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. need reservations, which cost $1.50 per car plus the $20 entrance fee for the park. The proceeds will pay for the expense of administering the reservation program.

People on guided tours won’t be affected as tour companies fall under different regulations.

Reservations can be made up to two months in advance.

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.