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Juan Castro Blanco
General information


It is located in Alajuela, east from Ciudad Quesada, 83 km from San Jose.
Conservation Area:
Arenal – Huetar Norte Conservation Area (ACA-HN)
14.453 hectares
The park does not have official entrances or park ranger’s booths. You can enter the park at any time; there’s no specific schedule.
When to go?

Dry season: December to April

Conatct information
Regional Office:
(00506) 2460-1412
Send mail
Web Page:
Visit Wen Page
Camping permissions:
General information
The Juan Castro Blanco National Park is a great place for birdwatching, where you can see beautiful birds like the impressive and famous quetzal. Among its interesting sites, there are waterfalls, hot springs and volcanoes that the visitors can appreciate and enjoy.

There are many different formations in this park, such as active volcanoes (Platanar Volcano) and inactive ones. It has important spring waters that form many cold-water and crystal-clear rivers and streams, and also waterfalls. This park protects primary forests (60%) and spots of secondary forests or forests that are recovering, with a great diversity of species of flora and fauna.

It has several life zones: very humid tropical-pre-montane transitional forest (2.2%), very humid pre-montane-pluvial transitional forest (0.2%), pre-montane pluvial forest (39.7%), low montane pluvial forest (53.2%), and low montane very humid forest (4.7%).

Some of the basins you can find in this territory are: Tapesco River, Peje River, La Vieja River, San Rafael River, Aguas Zarcas River and Tres Amigos River. Most of these rivers are intended for human consumption, but are also used for hydroelectric power plants.

Some archaeological discoveries have been made in the north area of this park. The north region served as a meeting point for the North and South American cultures. This territory was home to one of the most important chiefdoms of the pre-Columbian era: the Botos native group. Their domain extended all the way to the Central Valley, going through the territories of the Juan Castro Blanco and Poas Volcano National Parks.

The average annual rainfall is of 4.000 mm and the average temperature is 12ºC.
Dry season: December through April
Rainy season: May through November

A primary forest covers most part of the park, with some spots that are undergoing a regenerating process due to the collapsing of its steep areas. There are species like the aguacatillo, the balsa and laurel trees. This forest has trees that are more than 30 m tall.

In this park you can also see a mature forest with trees that are 100 years old or more. Near the riverbanks you can find some species of trees, such as the alder, oak trees and the candelillo or magnolia (endemic species). There are also different types of plants, like epiphytes, parasites, mosses, palm trees, ferns, orchids, clusias and bromeliads. Other species you may find are the yos (Sapium rigidifolium), the cedrillo macho (Brunellia costaricensis) and the white cypress (Podocarpus macrostachyus).

The park has many species that are typical of the high altitude forest. There are 30 species of mammals like bats, tapirs, coyotes, white-faced monkeys, peccaries, jaguarundis, anteaters, mountain goats, armadillos and pacas.

Among other animals, there are 32 different types of reptiles, such as the boa constrictor and the basiliscus lizard, and 44 kinds of amphibians (15% of the total of amphibians found in Costa Rica), like the harlequin frog and the grass frog.

There are 107 species of birds, like the goldfinch, hummingbirds and guans. Other birds you can find are the quetzal, which is famous for its amazing beauty, the bat falcon (Falco rufigularis) and the white hawk (Leucopternis albicollis).

Services and facilities on the Park
IMPORTANT: There are no facilities.

Inside the Park:
Walking through the trails
Birdwatching, especially quetzals
Admiring the Platanar Volcano
Visiting the waterfalls and rivers

Outside the Park
Stay and restaurants close to San Jose de la Montaña
Trout fishing
Visiting the park of Zarcero, which has animal-shaped bushes
Participating in activities in Zarcero that are planned throughout the year
Visiting Ciudad Quesada

Juan Castro Blanco
  • Recomendations
  • Interesting data
Tips para el viajero
Access recommendations
You can enter the park through San Jose de la Montaña, Garabito, San Martin or Marsella.
This park doesn’t have official entrances or park ranger’s booths. You can enter the park at any time; there’s no specific schedule.

General recommendations inside the park
There is no entrance fee since this park doesn’t have any facilities.

Clothes and accessories recommendations
Bring comfortable clothes and shoes, ideal for walking.
Bring umbrella, binoculars, photo camera, sunglasses and hat or cap.
Bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent.

Stay recommendations
There are places to stay and restaurants 10 km away from the community of Sucre.

Recommendations when walking through the trails
A part of the park’s territory is private property, so you should remain inside the marked trails, which are State lands.

Recommendations for a responsible tourist
Do NOT take with you animals, plants, rocks or any other materials from the park, as the law forbids it.

Recommendations with the animals
Some of the animals may be 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.

Datos interesantes
Datos interesantes:
Natural trail: it is located in the section of San Jose de la Montaña, inside the woods, and is ideal for birdwatching and also seeing reptiles and plants typical of the cloud forest.
Pozo Verde and Mina Abandonada trail: it is a 7 km round trip that offers a wonderful scenery.

Volcanic formations:
Active volcano: Platanar Volcano, 2.183 meters above sea level.
Inactive volcano: Cerro Viejo (2.122 m) and Cerro El Porvenir.
Eroded section of Segundo River due to volcanic activity.
Hills: Platanar, Congo, Volcan Viejo, Pelon and Avion.

Historical review
The Juan Castro Blanco National Park was created initially in 1968, with the creation of the Cerro Platanar National Forest (which has an extension of 2.500 hectares). Later, in 1975, it was declared Juan Castro Blanco Forest Reserve (with an extension of 13.700 hectares), including the hills Platanar, Volcan Viejo, El Siete, Avion and Pelon.

In 1989, this reserve was declared Protective Zone (now with 14.250 hectares) along with Costa Rica’s government, San Carlos Township and the Civil Society. Some years after, in 1992, it was stated as Juan Castro Blanco National Park, with an extension of 14.258 hectares.

The creation of the park was key to the protection of its territory, when a transnational company wanted to dig an open-pit mine in order to extract some minerals, event that could have severely polluted the water sources.

Conservation Area
The Arenal – Huetar Norte Conservation Area is located north from Alajuela and has an extension of 660.000 hectares (13% of the country’s territory). It includes the cantons of San Carlos, Alfaro Ruiz, Los Chiles, Sarapiqui (La Virgen), Guatuso and Upala. The total of the Protected Wildlife Areas in this conservation area is more than 83.000 hectares.

This area has an exuberant variety of plants and animals, large zones of rich forests, wetlands, hot springs, beautiful waterfalls, large rivers and amazing and impressive caves.

Juan Castro Blanco
como llegar?
How to get there?
Transportation San Jose – San Carlos (Ave. 7-9, Street 12, San Jose)
From San Jose to San Carlos, passing through the towns of Sucre and Ciudad Quesada:
Schedule: every day from 5:00am to 7:00pm (every hour)
From San Carlos to San Jose:
Schedule: every day from 5:00am to 6:00pm (every hour)
Office phone number: (506) 2255-4300

From San Jose, take the route #1 on the Pan-American Highway, heading north and passing by the Juan Santamaria airport, where you must keep going towards Naranjo. Take the exit and keep driving until you get first to the city of Zarcero, and then to the town of San Jose de la Montaña, 10 km east from Sucre.
Many roads surround the park so it has different entrances.

Other kind of transportation


Juan Castro Blanco
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Somos un grupo de amigos que quisieramos ir acampar al parque .. es esto posible? gracias?

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