White Hill, next to the parking lot, one mile below the main summit area of Haleakala, is named for its light-colored volcanic rock. A high concentration of mineral feldspar occurs in this rock, creating the light color.
The Hawaiian name for the area around White Hill is Pa Ka’oao, meaning “the enclosures belonging to Ka’oao,” a Hawaiian leader.
Ancient Hawaiians built stone wall enclosures in this area to protect themselves from the mountain’s harsh conditions. Centuries ago they climbed Haleakala for religious purposes, to quarry basalt for their tools, and to hunt birds for food and feathers.
The stone walls on White Hill and other stone formations in Haleakala National Park are protected by law. Moving even one stone can damage these cultural sites. Please do not disturb them when you see them. Early Hawaiians built stone-walled shelters, or pu, throughout the area.
Visitors and residents can learn more about Haleakala’s unique flora, fauna, wildlife and cultural significance through a guided daytime tour with the folks at Valley Isle Excursions. While sunrise offers stunning views, the 2am wake up call tends to dissuade otherwise interested visitors, and the views during the day are often just as stunning, and much less crowded.
Guests will be picked up and returned to their accommodation, fed two meals, and driven in a custom built shuttle with large viewing windows and comfortable leather seating, ideal for sitting back and enjoying the view while listening to commentary from an entertaining local guide. In addition, guests of the Haleakala Maui Tour will also be treated to a tour of Iao Valley and the nearby Kepaniwai Gardens, historic Maui towns, Upcountry forest and ranches, and several noteworthy churches and buildings.