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Kalalau Trail Reservations Completely Booked Within Minutes Each Day

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Hawai‘i is coming off its first long weekend of summer break, so The Conversation checked in on how one of the state's most popular spots is dealing with the start of summer travel.

Camping permits to hike along the famous Kalalau Trail at the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park are being snatched up every day. State Parks Assistant Administrator Alan Carpenter told us why the permit system was established and how the system works.

Reservations for the trail become available 30 days in advance. The day-use area where the trail begins, Haʻena State Park also requires nonresidents to make reservations for entry and parking.

For the trail, sometimes the 60 allotted camping permits are booked within minutes after midnight when reservations open, Carpenter said.

"In fact, that means our system is working beautifully," he said. "There are far, far more people who want to go there than we can allow to do so and that's the real big problem."

He stressed the area is a fragile, sensitive and important cultural landscape—particularly important to Native Hawaiians—and the permit process helps protect it.

"Be patient, keep trying, the system works. If it's meant to be, you'll get one," Carpenter said. "I also hear people say, 'Well, I couldn't get a permit, so I'm going anyway.' That's just not the attitude we need and that's not the visitor we want to have."

As the state comes out of the pandemic, Carpenter said the advance purchase period will probably be extended to somewhere between three and six months.

This story aired on The Conversation on June 14, 2021.

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