On the fertile slopes of Haleakala Volcano is one of Maui’s prettiest areas. Known as Upcountry Maui, the region features sweeping vistas and a profusion of flower gardens as well as fruit and vegetable farms set amidst the rolling ranchlands.
The journey into Upcountry Maui begins by turning off the Hana Highway (Hwy. 36) onto Baldwin Avenue and heading through the Paia town up toward Makawao. Home of the annual Makawao Rodeo every July 4, the cowboy town of Makawao also has a thriving arts community.
Continuing the climb through the Upcountry region brings you to Pukalani which means “Heavenly gate,” a fitting name for the scenic slopes of the Haleakala. Pukalani sits about 1,000 feet (305 m) above sea level so you will begin to notice the temperature change from the warmer coastal area.
Beyond Pukalani along the Kula Highway is the town of Kula where you can visit botanical gardens and a lavender farm. Next you will come to Keokea at 2,800 feet above sea level with sweeping vistas. Here you can also visit an art gallery and stop in at the coffee shop while also
appreciating the Chinese heritage of this remote Maui town that was once the home of China’s first president, Sun-Yat Sen.
From Keokea you can drive to Ulupalakua to visit the tasting room at Tedeschi Vineyards Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch in the historic 1874 Kalakaua Cottage building. The ranch also offers horseback riding tours and Sport Clay Shooting.
About ten miles upland from Kula not far from Keokea is Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area at 6,200 feet above sea level in the Kula Forest Reserve. Polipoli is a forested park with many species of mature trees including a redwood forest. Numerous hiking trails allow you to explore the area.
Maui’s Upcountry towns have a wonderful collection of small shops as well as great places to eat. If you are passing through on your way to the summit of Haleakala it is worth stopping to explore the charming towns and gardens of Upcountry where the often brisk temperatures are quite refreshing as you pass over the misty slopes and rolling hills taking in the expansive views.
If you have more time than just a quick stop then arrange a farm tour, go horseback riding or visit some of the many other attractions in Maui’s Upcountry.