Costa Rica’s Northern Volcanoes

Costa Rica’s north is a hotbed of volcanic activity.

At its southern end, Arenal represents just the beginning of an expansive volcanic chain, extending 68 miles to the northwest.

Eight other major volcanoes are found in this rugged range—the Cordillera de Guanacaste—each surrounded by protected wilderness.

Mud pots of Rincon de la Vieja in Costa Rica

Rincon de la Vieja

One of the most accessible volcanic parks is Rincon de la Vieja, located 30 minutes northeast of Liberia.

The park is anchored by an active volcano of the same name.

Volcan Rincon de la Vieja is flanked by two higher volcanic peaks: a sister cone known as Volcan Santa Marta (6,286 feet) and the dormant Cerro Von Seebach (6,217 feet).

Natural Hot Springs, Horseback Tours, Zip-lining &  Tubing

Therapeutic hot springs flow from Volcan Rincon’s forested base, filling the pools of nearby spa hotels.

Costa-Rica-Custom-Private-Travel-Design-Llano-de-Cortes-Falls (1)

Park visitors can also hike to waterfalls, fumaroles, and bubbling hotpots. Other activities include horseback riding, zip-line and rappelling tours, and whitewater tubing trips.

The park’s tropical dry-forest is the largest in Central America—home to bellbirds, toucanets, trogons and monkeys.

Guanacaste National Park

Located to the northwest, Guanacaste National Park connects the coastal dry-forest of Santa Rosa with the high elevation cloud-forests cloaking the Orosi and Cacao volcanoes.

These forests are vital habitat for more than 300 bird species, as well as monkeys, coatis and deer.

Group of vacation travelers hiking Cerro Pelado Volcano in Costa Rica

Hiking trails lead over the Continental Divide, where the dry Guanacaste landscape fades into misty Caribbean rainforest.

Miravalles Volcano

At the heart of the cordillera, the Volcan Miravalles Protected Zone is nothing short of a geothermal wonderland.

Two trails lead up the stratovolcano’s lush slopes. These paths are punctuated with recent lava flows, waterfalls, boiling pools, fumaroles and sulfur deposits.

Nearby, the Rio Tenorio challenges rafters with Class III and IV rapids.

Waterfall at Volcano Rincon de la Vieja.

Rio Celeste and Volcan Tenorio

Volcan Tenorio National Park, located due east of Miravalles, is best known for the pale blue pools of the mineral-rich Rio Celeste.

The surrounding rainforest echoes with the sounds of monkeys, toucans and bellbirds.

Trails lead to swimming areas, waterfalls, and the park’s famous hot springs, flowing from the twin Tenorio and Montezuma volcanoes.

Arenal and Northern Nicoya

Visits to the northern volcanoes are easily paired with stays in Arenal and the Northern Nicoya.

Azul waters of a pool at the base of the Rio Celeste Waterfall in Costa Rica

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