Tenorio Volcano National Park, Alajuela

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Located in northern Costa Rica, the Tenorio Volcano National Park is one of the country's youngest. Taking its name from the Tenorio Volcano, this national park boasts stunning river views and plenty of opportunities for wildlife adventures. The park was created in 1995 to protect the Tenorio Volcano, which is still active today. The park features four different life zones as well as the beautiful aqua-hued Rio Celeste.

This park is considered one of Costa Rica's best kept secrets as well as one of the best places for hikers. Not only can travelers trek alongside the stunningly beautiful Rio Celeste, the park is home to an abundance of flora and fauna. The Rio Celeste is an amazing shade of blue because of the sulfur that is emitted by the volcanic activity in the park. Then, the vibrant hue appears when the sulfur mixes with calcium carbon. As there are many legends and myths in Costa Rica, this river is no different. Ancient legend has it that the gods dipped their paint brushes into the river while painting the sky.

Park attractions

During a hike through the park, travelers will find a diverse array of flora and fauna, including pumas, tapirs, howler monkeys, squirrels, bromeliads, palms, ferns and much more. Travelers should expect a challenging hike through the forest, but the views are worth the effort. Getting through the entire park takes about four to five hours, including stops at all of the best points of interest. One of the most beautiful attractions here is the Rio Celeste waterfall.

Besides the river, the Tenorio Volcano is the main attraction of this park, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Reaching a height of 6,286 feet and boasting a near-perfect symmetrical cinder cone, the volcano is home to various habitats depending on the elevation. At mid-elevation, mountain rain forest and cloud forest serve as a home to several wild felines like the ocelot, jaguar and cougar, while other parts of the volcano feature virgin forest. Travelers can access the summit along the Lago las Dantas Trail that winds through the beautiful cloud forest.

Need to unwind after a long hike? There are multiple natural hot springs in the park where travelers can take a dip. However, take caution, as there are several boiling mud pots as well. These mud pots can be very dangerous and cause bad burns, so always be aware of your surroundings near these.

How to get there

From San Jose, there are two different options to reach the park. You can take the main highway to San Carlos and then Upala. From there, head toward Bijagua and follow the road approximately 48 kilometers to the entrance of the park. However, if you want to take the Interamerican Highway to Cañas, you will find a turnoff to Bijagua. The park will be roughly 32 kilometers from there.
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