Volcano National Parks near the Capital


Turrialba Volcano National Park
Far fewer visitors who travel to Costa Rica visit this park than the country’s others. Those who do will find 3,900 acres of scenic forests for guided hiking and moderate temperatures to their liking. Located only forty miles east of San Jose in Cartago Province, the Turrialba Volcano National Park was established in 1955. Though three craters are considered active, none have seemed so since the nineteenth century. The park is located in the vicinity of the country’s best whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River.

Juan Castro Blanco National Park
Just sixty-four miles northwest of San Jose in Alajuela Province, 35,700-acre Juan Castro Blanco National Park contains one active volcano, the Platanar, nine dormant ones and some cinder cones. Volcanic activity, past and present, is not all that attracts the few visitors who come here during their travel to Costa Rica. The park contains cloud forests and rainforests trails where hikers will encounter orchids, and if they are lucky, the resplendent quetzal. The park was established in 1992.

Braulio Carrillo National Park
Just ten miles north of the capital lies picturesque, 118,000-acre Braulio Carrillo, known for its dormant volcanoes, numerous waterways and its surroundings of cloud forests and rainforests. The park was established in 1978. Braulio Carrillo contains several scenic hiking destinations, its waterfalls and the crater lakes. A favorite pastime in the park for visitors on Costa Rica hiking tours to 9,534-ft Barva Volcano. Next to the park is a spectacular attraction for many people who visit the park during their travel to Costa Rica, an aerial tram that takes an exhilarating 1.6-mile ride over the treetops of the cloud forest.

Irazu Volcano National Park
Located just twenty miles east of the capital in Cartago Province, 6,000-acre Irazu Volcano National Park contains one big attraction, Costa Rica’s highest (11,259 ft) active volcano and its craters. Visitors on Costa Rica tours travel here to observe the fumaroles of this active strato-volcano as it prepares for the next big one, not having erupted since 1963. Visitors may hike to the summit in this stark landscape, a sight to remember during Costa Rica tours for the sheer magnitude of the largest of Irazu’s craters. The park first received government protection in 1955. Bring a warm jacket.

Poas Volcano National Park
Located a mere twenty-three miles north of the capital, in Alajuela Province, Poas Volcano National Park is a popular travel destination. Visitors on Costa Rica tours come here of course to watch the active 8,900-ft Poas Volcano perform, to hike in the cloud forests and to take in another of the park’s crater lakes, Botos. The 35,500-acre national park is one of Costa Rica’s oldest, established in 1971. For smaller crowds, avoid weekends. On the same day-trip from the capital, many visitors stop at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, a seventy-four acre, privately-owned nature park, containing waterfalls, rainforest species and educational exhibits.