Haleakala Park Rangers Urge Dawn Visitors to Sleep In

Every morning in Maui, a dawn explosion of color on a blanket of clouds is visible from the top of the island's highest mountain. Locals and visitors have been trekking up the slopes of the Haleakala volcano to catch the sunrise for decades, perhaps centuries.

But with heavy promotion of the site's beauty to tourists, the mountain may have had all it can stand. Rangers at Haleakala National Park say the crowds there have reached 1,000 people per day and continue to swell. In the face of impending damage to the mountain's terrain, the park superintendent announced the park will stop issuing parking permits for new bus, bicycle, horseback, hiking and astronomy tour groups.

"The Maui Visitors Bureau, the Maui Hotel Association, everybody who writes about what to do when visiting Maui, everyone promotes visiting Haleakala at sunrise," park ranger Sharon Ringsven told the Honolulu Advertiser. Ringsven said she has seen the number of bicycle tour groups double in the 10 years she has worked at the park.

Tour operators want the park to expand its parking area to make way for more business. But park officials suggest a change in marketing.

"Sunset is just as spectacular," Ringsven noted.

-- Sonya Geis

Visitors have climbed Maui's Haleakala volcano to see the sunrise for decades.