Experience The Quietest Place On Earth : Short Wave In a crater at the top of a dormant volcano lies a place so quiet, the ambient sound is right near the threshold of human hearing. Visitors to the crater say they can hear their own heartbeats. This spot, in Haleakalā National Park, has been nicknamed the "quietest place on Earth."

Getting there is no small feat--the ascent involves hiking upward through five different climate zones. But the reward is an experience of natural silence that is increasingly difficult to find.

Conservationists, park scientists, and communities all over the United States are working to conserve their pristine soundscapes while noise pollution from planes, vehicles, and other human sources increases. Today, Regina G Barber talks with producer Margaret Cirino about the history, culture, and sound of the Haleakalā crater, and why it should matter to all of us.

Experience The Quietest Place On Earth

Experience The Quietest Place On Earth

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The crater at Haleakalā National Park has been nicknamed the "quietest place on Earth." Nick McMahan/Quiet Parks International hide caption

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Nick McMahan/Quiet Parks International

The crater at Haleakalā National Park has been nicknamed the "quietest place on Earth."

Nick McMahan/Quiet Parks International

In a crater at the top of a dormant volcano lies a place so quiet, the ambient sound is right near the threshold of human hearing. Visitors to the crater say they can hear their own heartbeats. This spot, in Haleakalā National Park, has been nicknamed the "quietest place on Earth."

Getting there is no small feat--the ascent involves hiking upward through five different climate zones. But the reward is an experience of natural silence that is increasingly hard to find.

Conservationists, park scientists, and communities all over the United States are working to conserve their pristine soundscapes while noise pollution from planes, vehicles, and other human sources increases. Today, Regina G Barber talks with producer Margaret Cirino about the history, culture, and sound of the Haleakalā crater, and why it should matter to all of us.

Alpine brush at Haleakalā National Park. Nick McMahan/Quiet Parks International hide caption

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Nick McMahan/Quiet Parks International

Alpine brush at Haleakalā National Park.

Nick McMahan/Quiet Parks International

Listen in on the quietest spots in nature

What does pure, natural quiet sound like? If you're Matt Mikkelsen, you don't just wonder; you pack up your recording gear and hit the road.

Loons in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

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For two years and 95,000 miles, Matt traveled in pursuit of quiet. He's a sound designer lending his skills to a conservation group called Quiet Parks International. Their mission is to find the few places left on Earth where 15 minutes of natural silence can pass by, free of human-made noise.

The Zabalo River in Ecuador

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In pursuit of those purest natural soundscapes, Matt came across some extraordinary noises.

Light winds at Haleakalā National Park (recording by Nick McMahan)

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Haleakalā National Park at night. Nick McMahan/Quiet Parks International hide caption

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Nick McMahan/Quiet Parks International

Haleakalā National Park at night.

Nick McMahan/Quiet Parks International

Further Reading:

Break out your hiking boots and buckle up, because Short Wave is going on the road. Every Friday this summer, we're telling stories from some of the country's most stunning national parks and protected lands. It's a sonic summer road trip.

This episode was produced and reported by Margaret Cirino and edited by Gabriel Spitzer with help from Rebecca Ramirez. Rachel Carlson checked the facts. The audio engineer for this episode was Stu Rushfield.