Rincon de la Vieja National Park is the ultimate “one-stop shop” for Costa Rica’s natural attractions. Expect fuming volcanoes, gushing waterfalls, sky-high ziplines, natural hot springs, and more—all within just a couple of hours of the popular Guanacaste coast.
A popular destination among hikers and nature lovers, Rincon de la Vieja National Park is most easily accessed as a day trip from Liberia or the Guanacaste coast. Guided tours typically include all transportation between trailheads, rafting put-ins, and ziplining parks, plus provide the added benefit of information from a local guide.
Those wishing to visit on their own will find a number of well-marked hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulties, from the 2-mile (3-kilometer) Las Pailas Loop to the challenging 8-hour summit of Santa Maria Volcano, both with opportunities to spot wildlife like purple orchids, monkeys, and sloths. Horseback rides are also a popular way to cover more of the park's 88 square miles (228 square kilometers) in less time. Or, take it easy with a full day at one of the area's many spas and lodges, featuring therapeutic mud baths and naturally heated hot springs.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Be sure to bring swimwear.
- If hiking, wear good shoes appropriate for loose gravel and rugged terrain.
- Hikers must check in with one of the two ranger stations.
How to Get There
The park is most easily accessed by private transportation or as part of a guided tour from the Guanacaste region. It also makes an ideal day trip from Liberia, a large city located just 40 minutes away by car. Buses, taxis, and shuttles also run from Liberia.
When to Get There
Rincon de La Vieja National Park is open year-round, except Mondays. Dry season, which typically falls between December and April, is the recommended time to visit, as the trails are dry and it’s easiest to spot wildlife gathering at water sources. Easter (Holy Week) and Christmas are peak times for locals to visit, and the park may be very crowded.
The park is composed of two volcanoes: the active Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and the dormant Santa Maria Volcano. Fuming steam vents are a sign of the active volcano’s lingering volcanic activity, while the rich biodiversity allowed by the fertile volcanic soil gave rise to a rare tropical dry forest.