What is Haleakala Crater?

Haleakala Crater is the result of two competing forces of nature; volcanism which built the great mountain of Haleakala to a height of over 12,000 feet and erosional forces (rain, wind) which have reduced it to the current height of 10,023 feet. In geologic terms, it is an erosional depression. In visual terms, breathtaking, awesome, striking all come to mind.

What is Haleakala National Park?

Haleakala National Park encompassess the Crater as well as the Ohe’o Gulch area on East Maui. It stretches from the summit of Haleakala at 10,023 feet to sea level where Ohe’o stream enters the Pacific.

What about the elevation?

Pony Express explores the Crater from the rim (9,870 feet) to the floor (7,500 feet). Most people handle the elevation well although a few experience elevation sickness symptoms which can include headache, nausea and dizzyness. If you have had prior problems with elevation, our Haleakala Ranch rides at 4,000 feet are an option. We recommend riders who will also scuba dive while on Maui schedule the Crater ride first to avoid decompression problems associated with elevation. Drinking ample water can help with elevation issues.

How long will the drive from my hotel be?

The drive from Lahaina/Kaanapali to the Ranch Office is 1 hour 15 minutes, to the Crater is two hours. The drive from Kihei/Wailea about the same timing. A rental car is recommended for the trip. There are no regularly scheduled round-trip shuttles to the top. Drivers are cautioned to use a lower gear when going downhill to assist in breaking.

How cold is it on the top?

Generally speaking, each 1,000 feet of elevation results in a three degree difference of temperature. The 10,000′ summit is around 30 degrees cooler than at sea level. A toasty 85 degrees in Lahaina can be 55 degrees on top of Haleakala. Add a little breeze and you can see why dressing warmly in layers is required. A hat with a tether strap is strongly encouraged as well. The day will warm slightly as we make our descent to the floor (less breeze) and riders begin to peel layers to adjust.


Yes indeed! Maximum sunscreen will help you avoid a nasty sunburn (don’t forget the backs of your hands). The elevation permits more of the suns’ rays to reach your skin. A hat is strongly encouraged as well.

Can we canter the horses?

Both the Crater Ride and Ranch Ride are touring rides which do not feature cantering. The Crater Ride goes into the Parks’ back country which is accessible only by foot or horseback. Outside medical assistance will not readily be available in the event a rider takes a spill while cantering.

How can I pay?

Your credit card will be charged in full at the time of reservation. You will receive a receipt and confirmation by email. We have a 24 hour notice of cancellation (48 hours for parties of 2-5 and 72 hours for 6 or more)

What type of restrictions?

We require that all riders weigh less than 235#, be at least 10 years old (9 with lots of riding experience) and no pregnant riders. We have no maximum age restriction but feel it prudent to consult with those over 65 concerning the rigors of the ride. We also check for any health conditions with the 10,000′ elevation in terms of heart, lungs or sun.

Do you have to be an experienced rider?

We recommend that you have a little riding experience prior to coming on our rides.

How to proceed?

First step is to decide your level of riding:

  • Novice – limited riding experience (6 rides or less), leary of riding a horse
  • Intermediate – experience riding horses (12+ rides), very comfortable with horse
  • Experienced – experience riding horses (30+ rides), very comfortable with horse