comscore Thick crowds of sunrise watchers pose risk at Haleakala | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Thick crowds of sunrise watchers pose risk at Haleakala

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / MAY 25, 2002

    Visitors to the summit of Haleakala, Maui, greet the new day as the sun rises over the horizon.

WAILUKU >> The National Park Service wants to manage safety and resource protection concerns as growing crowds of people compete for space to watch the sunrise at the Haleakala summit.

Private or rental vehicles have exceeded available parking 98 percent of the time this year, up from 83 percent in 2014 and 94 percent last year, the Maui News reported.

Some people are parking and walking where they shouldn’t, a Haleakala National Park official said. Visitor safety is also a concern as people venture out to find a better view.

“People want to get away from the crowds, so they go off trail into endangered species habitat, which is also where many sensitive cultural resources are,” said Polly Angelakis, the park’s chief of interpretation and education. “Or they move out on to cliff faces or crumbling volcanic rocks, which are very dangerous.”

The sunrise can draw as many as 850 people in one morning, with a daily average of 600.

“These resources can be damaged both by vehicles and off-road travel by visitors,” Angelakis said.

No plan has been drafted to manage the noncommercial crowds.

Two meetings have been held to solicit public comment on ways to manage crowds, visitor enjoyment as well as the protection of natural resources.

People can submit comments by June 6 via the online Planning, Environment and Public Comment System.

Park officials plan to use the comments as they develop a potential plan.

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  • Very soon, the public will no longer be able to witness a Sunrise, a Sunset, a Moonrise, a Moonset or related Eclipses; breathe the Air, Drink the Water, Walk, Talk, or have direct control over their own bodily-functions. We’ll just all be propped-up in a Casket-sized box–wearing Google-Glasses which will receive transmissions from the likes of HILLARY, KISSINGER, RUMSFELD, SOROS, ZUCKERFUCHS, BILL AND MELISSA, and, of course THE KARDASHIANS…

  • Carrying capacity is a critical consideration. Good planners will set the limit. For instance most toilet stalls plan for one occupant … two if it is ADA compliant and I remember a large out house that was a four holer. Point being at some point it is full so revise the plan or set limits. What is the carrying capacity of this planet? Remember “supply and demand = $.

    • Better yet, don’t allow any vehicles beyond a certain level. Make adequate parking there. Then the viewers must climb on foot to the summit. It’s the ease of reaching the summit that creates all these problems of overcrowding. Ever been to Mt. Fuji? Vehicles park at the fifth level, then all hike up to the eighth level summit. Works there and is manageable.

      • Haha when a friend and I went there in ’67 we camped at Hosmer Grove and started the hike at about midnight. We got there in time for sunrise (and were the only ones there), but we were freezing and the observation building was still locked. We went into the restroom — only place we could get inside — to try pretty much in vain to warm up. It was a “three-holer” as I recall.

        So yeah, making folks hike up to the summit from a certain point will definitely thin the herd.

  • Overcrowding is a problem at many National Parks, and there’s always a lot of hand-wringing by the NPS, but the solution is simple: larger parking lot at a lower elevation with shuttles that limit the total number of visitors on the summit and reservations are made in advance for a specific time slot. Absolutely NO private vehicles on the summit. We limit numbers at the Arizona Memorial and Hanauma Bay, why not do the same for Haleakala.

    While sunset is beautiful, the top of Haleakala is gorgeous all day long.

    • True protecting the environment is important, yet what about our visitor who have spent monies to visit the islands and are then denied the privileges for viewing the sunrises/sunsets. Tough is not an answer considering the “Aloha Spirit” that is attributed to the islands. A dilemma yes!

  • Just advertise on Airbnb for slots. Then no one will care about crowding it because it collects money for the state. I know it’s a national park, but who cares? It’s a bnb/tvu opportunity.

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