National Park

Hystorical Background:
Rincón de la Vieja National Park was created by law No. 5398, on the 23rd of October, 1973. Located in Guanacaste and Alajuela provinces, it covers a little over 14, 083.9 hectares. With 26°C of temperature and 2000 mm rain fall average.
Rincón de la Vieja is one of the protected areas within the Guanacaste Conservation Area (ACG.), along with Guanacaste and Santa Rosa National Parks, Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge and the Horizontes Forestry Station.
To make management and oparations more efficient, Rincón de la Vieja National Park has been split into two sectors, Las Pailas and Santa María.
Las Pailas Sector owes its name to the volcanic features found here, which include fumaroles, mud pots, and steam vents.
Santa Maria Sector, from the end of the 19th century until 1973 was one of the largest haciendas of the region. Cattle raising (for both meat and milk) was the principal purpose of the hacienda, along with cultivation of coffee and sugar cane.
Ways of access:

Las Pailas Sector is located about 25 km northeast of Liberia. Travel north on the Inter-American Highway, 5 km from Liberia to the community of Guadalupe, then take the gravel road to the east, for 20 km.
Santa María Sector begins about 25 km from barrio La Victoria, in the town of Liberia. Keep on the road to the community of Colonia Blanca, and then, turn left. A four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended for these roughroads.

Flora and fauna:

Due to the range of altitudes, rainfall and ages of volcanic ash fields, there is a good variety of vegetative formations on Rincón's slopes and craters. On the highest forested slopes the trees become dwarfed, gnarled, and covered with moss mats, which provide arboreal soil for orchids and other epiphytes. Rincón is, also, a protected refuge of a large population of the lovely national flower of Costa Rica, the Guaria Morada orchid (Cattleya skinerii). Representative trees include Laurel (Cordia alliodora), Guanacaste (Enterolobium cyclocarpum), Cedro Amargo (Cedrela odorata), the Naked Indian Tree, (Bursera simarouba) and the Copey, (Clusia sp.). Common mammals include collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu), agoutis (Dasyprocta puntacta), tayras (Eira barbara), ninebanded armadello (Dassypus novecinctus), white-faced monkeys (Cebus capuccinus), howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata), and spider monkeys (Ateles gefroyi)
The mountain is home to about three hundred bird species, including the Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens), Blue-crowned Motmot (Momotus momotta), Mountain Robin (Myadestes melanops), and the Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus).

Geology and Hidrology:

Approximately 600,000 years old, the massive Rincón de la Vieja volcano is a complex geological structure, consisting of at least nine volcanic cones. The rim of the most active crater is at 1806 meters; its sides are nearly vertical and are barren of vegetation. Santa María crater is the highest at 1916 m. It is presently inactive and has some vegetative cover. Along the south side of the volcano there is a zone, where hot springs, mud pots, and steam and sulfer vents are found.
It is said that Rincón de la Vieja once served as a natural lighthouse for sailors off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Reliable reports from 1851 tell of eruptions of smoke and ash; sporadic eruptions of steam and ash were again observed between 1860 and 1863. During the present century, occasional eruptions of gases, ash and mud mixed with steam were noted from 1966 to the 1970s. During 1983-1984 the activity affected an area 2 km to the south and to the east of the active crater. The most recent eruptions, in 1991, 1995 and again in 1997, caused some damage to settlements on the Atlantic slope.

Mighty Rincón de la Vieja stands astride the continental divide, separating Atlantic from Pacific watersheds in the northwest zone of the country. Its height and location make it a veritable "water factory" one which has been lending service for many years to the province of Guanacaste. Here are forever protected important watersheds that supply drinking water to the provincial capital, the city of Liberia. In total, thirty two rivers are born on Rincón´s flanks; among them the Colorado, Blanco, and Ahogados Rivers. Additionaly, there are sixteen intermittent creeks, that flow only during the rainy season. Many of these streams are tributaries of the Tempisque River, the largest river in the province of Guanacaste.

Interest sites:

Las Pailas Sector: Las Pailas Trail, Blanco River Pool, Hidden Waterfalls, The Crab Waterfall, Active Crater Trail, Las Pailas to Santa Maria Trail
Santa María Sector: Santa María Casona, Humming Bird Trail, cold Water Pots, Enchanted Forest Waterfall, Thermal Water, The Santa María Overlook.


* Trails vary in length from about 1 to 8 km. Please, never leave the trails.
* Do not forget to carry drinking water and use strong shoes or boots. Always carry a flashlight if you walk at night.
* The many clear cool streams on Rincón provide breeding sites for biting flies, which can be a nuisance at times. Come prepared with insect repellent.
* Due to their volcanic origin, some springs and creeks on Rincón carry high concentrations of chemicals. Avoid drinking the water unless its potability is indicated.
* Please do not toss your cigarette butts, and do not make bonfires.
* Please place all your garbage in the containers provided.
* It is forbidden, by law, to bring pets into the Park, and to remove plants, animals, or any other natural resources. Take only pictures, leave only footprints.

Enjoy your trip !