The Northern Zone
North-Central Volcanoes and Parks
The ruggedly beautiful Guanacaste Province is Costa Rica’s cowboy country. The region, which borders the northwest Pacific Coast and Nicaragua,is considerably drier year-round than the Southern Zone and Caribbean side making it a popular destination even in the heart of the rainy season.
Home to rare dry-tropical forests, sweeping grasslands, three distinct volcanoes, and several national parks, north-central Guanacaste is packed with engaging options for visitors. The area is renowned for its ecotourism and outdoor attractions, most centered around the volcanoes and their respective national parks.
Horseback riding, mountain biking, canopy zip-line tours, ATV expeditions, waterfall hikes, river rafting, birding, nature tours, and a plethora of natural hot springs are offered throughout the region. Traditional Costa Rican hacienda-style eco-lodges are ubiquitous around the volcanos adding culture and history to the blend of outdoor fun. There are also several stunning eco-resorts tucked away in the wilderness for those looking for luxury and adventure.
See Costa Rica’s National Parks for more in-depth information on Guanacaste’s volcanoes and their astounding features, including bubbling pools of steaming volcanic mud, fumaroles, myriad waterfalls, and a stunning sky-blue river running through the rainforest.
Rincón de la Vieja, Tenorio, and Miravalles Volcanoes and National Parks:
Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is a perfect example of geothermal energy at work. The complex volcano and its dormant sister craters lie approximately 25 km northeast of Liberia in Guanacaste Province. The national park features otherworldly terrain like bubbling clay pots, fumaroles, and steam vents. Several hot springs and thermal rivers emerge from the mountain’s depths. Visitors can explore La Viejas’s mysteries by walking the park’s extensive trails or at one of the traditional ranch-style ecolodges dotting the rugged grasslands and forests around the volcano. In addition to soaking in hot springs or a therapeutic massage, countless eco-adventure tours are available.
The nearby Tenorio Volcano National Park is also worth visiting. Its show-stopping centerpiece is the stunning Rio Celeste River that runs through the park. Due to a mysterious chemical reaction that occurs when two distinct volcanic rivers intersect, the river turns a brilliant shade of milky turquoise as it tumbles through the park’s expansive cloud and rainforests.
Miravalles Volcano National Park, just next door, also offers hiking trails, beautiful overlooks, and waterfalls. However, most visitors opt to explore the trails of Tenorio and Rincon de la Vieja. All three volcanoes are the source of geothermal energy production – part of Costa Rica’s massive renewable energy production.