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Rincon de la Vieja
General information


It is located in the north region of Costa Rica, in Guanacaste and Alajuela, in the Guanacaste Mountain Range, 25 km northeast from Liberia and 242 km from San Jose, the capital.
Conservation Area:
Guanacaste Conservation Area (ACG)
14.161 hectares Height: 1.900 meters above sea level
Every day: from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
When to go?

The dry season goes from December through April, and is ideal for climbing to the volcano and appreciating its wonderful scenery.
During the rainy season, from March to November, you can see the fumaroles and the small mud active volcanoes.

Conatct information
Regional Office:
(00506) 2666-5051
Send mail
Web Page:
Visit Wen Page
Camping permissions:
General information
The Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park is a volcanic massif that is formed by nine eruptive spots, which proves to be an impressive and unforgettable sample of the power of Earth’s depths. This park welcomes more than 43.000 people every year.

The active crater is located in the north border of the park. Its activity has been recorded since the middle XVIII century, including violent eruptions, strong gas and vapor emissions, phreatic eruptions (very strong eruptions that include water vapor expansion) and phreato-magmatic eruptions (water vapor and magma). Also there are large periods of only vapor and gases emissions, like in the last decade.

The nine eruptive spots that form the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano massif are aligned in a northwest-southeast direction, and the most important craters are the Von Seebach crater, the active crater, the Rincon de la Vieja crater and the Santa Maria crater.

Besides its interesting and attractive craters, this volcano has as well hot springs, waterfalls and very different sceneries compared to the ones of the dry forests of the low altitude areas (most part of the region). It is home and shelter to a large population of the orchid Guarianthe skinneri, commonly known as “Guaria Morada” (“purple orchid”), which is Costa Rica’s national flower.

It is part of the watershed between the Atlantic and Pacific regions, northeast area of the country, where 32 rivers begin their flow, such as the Colorado, Blanco and Ahogados rivers. The park is considered as a “water factory” due to all these rivers, whose supply has favored the zone of Guanacaste for many years.

This park protects and preserves the hydrographic basins that provide with water the city of Liberia. Also, there are 16 irregular creeks that together supply important rivers like the Tempisque, which is vital for the city.

During summer, in clear weather, it is possible to see the lake of Nicaragua, the gulf of Santa Elena and Culebra bay when you get to the highest point of the volcano.

You can find Las Pailas and Las Hornillas south from the base of the volcano, which are vapor streams that rise above the craters, and also small mud volcanoes where bubbles appear due to the release of vapor and gases. Hot springs form water creeks and holes from where these emissions come through. They can dry up if it doesn’t rain for a long time.

The average annual temperature is 26ºC and the average annual rainfall is of 2.000 mm.

The different altitudes, rainfall levels and the effects of the eruptions result in diverse ecosystems and vegetation. In the high zones you can find the short forest, with bent trees covered by epiphyte plants.

There are plenty of trees such as the laurel tree (Cordia alliodora), the Guanacaste tree (En terolobium cyclocarpum), the Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata), the gumbo-limbo (Bursera simarouba) and the copey.

This park is a shelter for the Guaria Morada (“purple orchid”), which is Costa Rica’s national flower since 1939.

There have been identified around 300 species of birds in this park, like the horned guan, the blue-crowned motmot, the mountain goldfinch and the collared aracari.

Among the mammal species in the park you can find mountain goats, peccaries, ocelots, pumas, jaguars and tapirs, which are endangered animals. There are also the white-tailed deer, the agouti, the armadillo, the two-toed sloth, the coati, the coyote, the anteater, the Central American agouti and three monkey species: the howler monkey, the red-colored monkey and the white-faced monkey.

Services and facilities on the Park
Santa Maria section
Santa Maria House (visitor center): small exhibit (maximum 20 people)
Viewer: small hill behind the Santa Maria House, with access all year long. From here you can see the Miravalles volcano, the surroundings of the town of San Jorge and the low areas of Guanacaste, close to the Tempisque River.
Camping area: maximum 30 people
Parking lot: wide area around the house where you can leave you car

Las Pailas section
Park rangers’ booth with information (basic English spoken)
Camping area: 200 meters away from the information booth inside the woods (maximum 40 people)
Showers (cold water)
Tables and garbage cans
Water (the use of soap or detergent is NOT allowed in the river)
Lunch area: land extension next to the Colorado River, has access ONLY during dry season
Parking lot: in the entrance of Las Pailas section, in a private property outside from the park

Inside the Park:
Visiting the viewers
Walking along the trails

Outside the Park
Visiting nearby national parks such as Santa Rosa, Guanacaste and the Miravalles protective area.

Rincon de la Vieja
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  • Interesting data
Tips para el viajero
Access recommendations
Schedule: every day from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
The park’s administration may restrict and regulate the access when the number of visitors surpasses the permitted capability of the park.

General recommendations inside the park
When you arrive to the park, let the park rangers know at the entrance booth, leaving your name, nationality and ID or passport number.

Weather recommendations
The dry season goes from December through April, and is ideal for climbing to the volcano and appreciating its wonderful scenery.
During the rainy season, from March to November, you can see the fumaroles and the small mud active volcanoes.

Clothes and accessories recommendations
Bring comfortable shoes and clothes, water bottles and mosquito repellent.
Bring hat or cap, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Stay recommendations
You cannot make reservations for the camping area in the park.

Recommendations when walking through the trails
If you are going to walk at night, use a flashlight.
Night tours can only be done along with an authorized guide.
You are NOT allowed to trespass the safety fences.

Health recommendations
Do not drink water from the rivers since those can contain chemical substances, product of volcanic activity.
You must be very careful when walking in the craters because overexposing to the gases is very dangerous (maximum 15 minutes in the active crater).

Recommendations for a responsible tourist
Please remain inside the marked trails.
Do not litter; pick up the garbage and throw it away properly in the labeled containers.
Pets are not allowed, and you cannot take with you any plants, animals or other natural resources of the area.
Use water rationally and do not use soap, shampoo or detergents in the rivers or creeks.

Recommendations to prevent forest fires
Please be careful with cigarettes.
Bonfires are not allowed anywhere in the park in order to prevent fires.

Recommendations with the animals
Even though there's a large variety of animal species in the park, most of them are hard to find because of different reasons, like the fact that they're night creatures, their reproductive or migratory behavior and the forest's density.

Money recommendations
In order to hire an authorized guide you must pay an additional fee that would be charged by the park’s staff.

Datos interesantes
Datos interesantes:
Sites of interest:
The Rincon de la Vieja National Volcano Park has 9 craters:

Old crater
: this is currently a cone with a very eroded crater that has a diameter of almost 1 km, and is located towards the east.

Von Seebach crater: located next to the Cerro Braun (Braun Hill), it is 1.894 meters high and even though it is eroded you can see it still has the shape of a volcano.

Active crater: currently active crater with a cone that is 1.700 meters high and a crater that has a diameter of almost 700 meters. There are records of gas and water emissions and sporadic eruptions from this crater.

Rincon de la Vieja crater: its cone is well built and is completely covered by vegetation. This crater has a diameter of 600 meters and is 1.806 meters high, and has an intermittent lagoon in its bottom.

Santa Maria crater: it has an altitude of 1.916 meters and is located southeast from the massif. In its crater you can find a 2.5-hectare lagoon (similar to the Botos Lagoon in the Poas Volcano). Since it is isolated from the rest of the craters, it serves as shelter for large mammals that live in the area.

There are also:

An eroded cone in the west section of the park.
A crater close to the Rincon de la Vieja crater.
Two pyroclastic cones (deposit formed by volcanic materials) in the east section of the park.

Other sites of interest
Laguna Jilgueros (Goldfinches Lagoon): this cold water lagoon has an extension of 6.5 hectares. It is surrounded by exuberant vegetation and many birds like goldfinches and quetzals; other animals, like tapirs, also come to visit this area. This is part of a natural valley, and it retains water after the formation of the volcanic structures of the north region.

Hot lagoon: the active crater has a rainfall water lagoon with a temperature that ranges between 30°C and 50°C, and has an acidity that goes from 0,6 to 0,8 pH.

The Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park is divided in two sections: Las Pailas section and Santa Maria section.

Las Pailas section:

Its name was given after the volcanic activities that take place in the area, such as fumaroles, mud pans and fumarolic lagoons (lagoons with gas emissions). Las Pailas are places with pans (spots with emissions of water vapor, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and other gases that rise through cracks and holes) and small, bubbling mud volcanoes. They cover an extension of about 50 hectares.

Santa Maria section:

Since the late XIX century up to 1973, this section used to be one of the largest farmhouses in the region. Some of the activities that took place here were livestock breeding and coffee and sugar cane harvesting.


Las Pailas circular trail: it is 3.2 km long and takes about 3 hours to go over it. It has a medium difficulty level and access all year long. When walking through this trail you will be visiting an active volcanic area, where you will see the water pans, the small mud volcanoes and the fumaroles. This trail has a viewer and begins in the entrance of Las Pailas section. Since it is close to the entrance, you can find nearby restrooms and picnic areas.

Santa Maria section trail: it is 5.5 km long and takes about 4 hours to go over it. It has a medium difficulty level and access all year long. This section used to be one of the largest farmhouses in the area up to 1973. Along the trail you may find an old house that used to be part of the former farm.

La Cangreja waterfall trail: it is 4.8 km long and takes about 3 hours to go over it. It has a medium difficulty level and access all year long. La Cangreja waterfall begins its flow in the creek called Zanja. Throughout the trail you can appreciate the panoramic view of the south part of the volcano. To get to this trail you must walk 900 meters north from the entrance in Las Pailas section.

Cataratas escondidas (hidden waterfalls) trail: it is 1.6 km long and takes 90 minutes to go over it. It has a medium difficulty level and access all year long. This trail will guide you through 4 waterfalls (from 60 to 70 meters high) that are found in rocky lands wrecked by eruptive activity. In order to get to this trail you must first go over La Cangreja trail, and after 2 km, you will find an exit heading north towards the hidden waterfalls.

IMPORTANT: The slope on this trail is very steep so you must be in good shape and have a great physical condition to go over it.

Sitio Capelares trail: it is 6.1 km long and takes about 2 ½ hours to go over it. It has a medium difficulty level and access all year long. Through this trail you arrive to the craters of the volcano, going along primary forests where you can see different flora and fauna species. It is recommended to go over this trail as early as possible; it begins in the entrance of Las Pailas section and ends when it divides in two: the Von Seebech crater trail and the active crater trail.

Von Seebech crater trail: it is 1.3 km long and takes about 2 hours to go over it. It has a high difficulty level and access all year long. It begins where the Capelares trail ends and has a viewer to the Von Seebach crater.

IMPORTANT: This is a very difficult trail because the slope is very steep so you must be in good shape and have a great physical condition to go over it.

Active crater trail: it is 2.2 km long and takes about 3 hours to go over it. This is a difficult trail that has access all year long. It begins where the Capelares trail ends and has a viewer to the hot lagoon and the active crater.

IMPORTANT: You should NOT stay in the crater for more than 15 minutes because the continuous exposure to sulfuric gases and strong winds may be harmful to your health.

Crater interconnection trail: it is 800 meters long and connects the Von Seebach trail and the active crater trail.

Formation process of the volcano:
The Rincon de la Vieja Volcano was formed about 1 million years ago. The subduction movement (process in which one plate sinks under another one) of the Cocos and Caribe plates is responsible for the formation of this cone-shaped volcano, which also has a high altitude and is composed by nine craters.

The compressive and expansive effects of the Earth’s crust causes fractures, and the pressure of the magma uses these fractures to rise up to the surface along with gases.

The gas emissions and the solid materials that are thrown cause a gap in the structure that with gravity also cause a collapsing effect in the materials of the surface, pushing them down. With time, the magma rising currents reactivate, forming a volcanic cone that extends continuously due to the eruptions.

Guanacaste Conservation Area
The Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park is one of the areas that the Guanacaste Conservation Area (ACG) protects, along with other national parks and refuges such as Guanacaste and Santa Rosa National Parks, Bahia Junquillal Wildlife Refuge and the Horizontes Forest Experimental Station.

Rincon de la Vieja
como llegar?
How to get there?
Pulmitan of Liberia (San Jose, Street 24, Ave. 5-7)
From San Jose to Liberia:
Every day: 6:00am, 9:00am, 10:00am, 11:00am, 12:00md, 1:00pm, 3:00pm, 5:00pm, 6:00pm and 8:00pm.
From Liberia to San Jose:
Every day: 3:00am, 4:00am, 5:00am, 6:00am, 7:00am, 8:00am, 10:00am, 12:00md, 2:00pm, 4:00pm, 6:00pm and 8:00pm.
Office phone number: (506) 2256-9552, (506) 2222-1650


In order to get to the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park from Liberia, you must rent a vehicle because the bus stop is many kilometers away from the entrance of the park, and you must go along a gravel road.

Entrance through Las Pailas section (west end of the park):
From San Jose, take the route #1 in direction towards Liberia, heading north, for about 217 km. Keep going north for 5 km more on the Pan-American Highway until you turn northwest for an exit that has a 20 km gravel road, which leads to Las Pailas section, where you will find the entrance of the park. It is better if you can make your trip in a 4-wheel drive vehicle due to the bad conditions of the last 20 km of the road.

Other kind of transportation


Rincon de la Vieja
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Costa Rica Explorer Guide
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Horario del Parque Rincón de la Vieja
Saludos Almena, para responder con tu consulta sobre el Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja te aclaramos que abren todos los días excepto lunes. Para mayor información puede leer: http://www.costaricaexplorerguide.com/php/atracciones.php?atract=20 Horario: K a D: 7:00 AM a 3:00 PM Muchas gracias por visitar Costa Rica Explorer Guide, Andrea Vinocour Pacheco Comunicación Colectiva Costa Rica Explorer Guide Tel: 22 53- 92 15


rincon de la vieja
queria saber si los lunes el parque rincon de la vieja esta cerrado o abre todos los dias. yo voy a ir en julio.

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