Haleakala, the towering volcano that marries the earth to the sky in Maui, is literally "The House of the Sun."
While pictures and videos can show the landscape of this beautiful summit, there is no substitute for a personal visit. The colors of the crater are muted and vibrant at the same time, and from the summit looking into the vast rock and sand wonderland it is truly difficult to understand the great expanse -- until a hiker or horseback rider moves across a trail and you can truly begin to understand the depth and breadth of the mountaintop.
Sunrise on Haleakala is a wonder filled event. I was struck by more than the beauty of the sun peeking through the eastern sky, turning the clouds into shades of gold that I had never seen before. If you want to see the event yourself, you need to make the long journey up the mountainside and be ready very early -- usually the parking lots begin to fill at 4 am HST. Bring a jacket -- at over 10,000 feet the morning is cold, and the wind the preceeds the magical sunrise will bring literal tears to your eyes.
Bring water and food and make sure that you have plenty of gas in that rental car, since there are no concessions at the summit.
While there is no camping at the summit overlook area, there is a tent camping area lower on the mountain at Hosmer Grove. It's a great place to get a head start on the morning activities. There are camping opportunities in the crater itself -- with primitive tent camping areas and cabins... but a reservation or permit is needed in advance.