There are two primitive wilderness tent areas which are accessible only by trail, Hōlua and Palikū.
Hōlua, the wilderness tent area reached by the shortest hike, lies at 6,940 ft (2,115m) in the shrubland near Koʻolau Gap. Hōlua is 3.7 mi (6 km) one way down the Halemauʻu trail or 7.4 mi one way (12km) from the Keoneheʻeheʻe (sliding sands) trailhead. Visitors staying at Hōlua can enjoy day hikes further into the crater. The landscape around Hōlua supports a native shrubland which colonizes the lava flows.
At 6,380 ft (1,945m), Palikū is on the east end of the wilderness valley at the base of a rain forest cliff. This wilderness tent area is reached via a strenuous 9.3 mi (15km) one way hike on the Keoneheʻeheʻe (sliding sands) Trail or 10.4 mi (17km) one way hike on the 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.
Both tent areas are wonderful opportunities for night sky viewing in what's considered one of the quietest natural places on earth! Campers may even come across native species such as the Nēnē (Hawaiian goose). Please remember to keep your distance from any wildlife and refrain from freeding them.
From both Hōlua and Palikū campsites, campers have the option to day hike on trail through the crater. Locations to enjoy from Hōlua may be the Silversword loop or the loop around Halaliʻi cinder cone. Locations to enjoy from Palikū may be a loop hike toward Kapaloa or toward Kaupo Gap and back. Visit https://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/maps.htm to plan your day hikes from either campsite. Please stay on designated trails throughout your crater journey and pack out everything with you!
Both wilderness tent areas have 4 designated individual tent sites (5 people, 2 tents maximum) and 1 group site (10 people, 4 tents maximum). One pit toilet is located nearby in both wilderness tent areas. A non-potable water spigot is located outside of the wilderness visitor cabins adjacent to the wilderness tent areas.
Sites are located inside Haleakalā crater and involve a strenuous hike. Campers should prepare for hot, sunny, cold, wet, and windy conditions as weather can change rapidly. There is no shade or water on the crater floor, and temperatures can vary from 40-70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 30-50 degrees Fahrenheit at night, so pack plenty of water, sunscreen, and layers. 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. Due to the soft sandy nature of the trails, plan on spending twice as much time to hike out as to hike in.
Campsites are located near the wilderness visitor cabins. A wilderness tent permit does not grant access to any wilderness cabin within the crater. Wilderness cabins can be reserved through rec.gov.
Reservations are non-transferable and non-refundable.