Rincon de la Vieja National Park
Parque Nacional Rincon de la Vieja protects more than 177 square miles of the volcano’s upper dry forest covered slopes as well as volcanic hot springs and bubbling and boiling mud ponds. The volcano has two peaks, the Santa Maria and the namesake Rincon de la Vieja. Although the Rincon de la Vieja peak is active, it is unlikely for it to have a major explosion since it is constantly venting off steam and heat through the fumaroles that dot the terrain. The hornillas is a collection of mud cones, mud pots and vents you can visit, their most active period is the rainy season. However, don’t venture too close to the edges, since they are brittle and there are cases of people falling in and getting seriously burnt or even dying. Los azufrales is a collection of hot sulfur springs you can bathe in, just be careful with getting sulfur in your eyes. Inside the Rincon de la Vieja National Park you can hike several trails on your own or with a guide.
The solid Rincon de La Vieja, which has 1,916 meters of altitude, is a composed structure. On the top, there have been nine eruptive points identified, one active and the others inactive in a degrading process. To the south of the crater you can find a pure water lagoon. The last strong eruptive period, with launching of big ash clouds and earthquakes and subterranean noises, happened in 1966 and 1970. The recent eruptions have happened in 1983, 1984 and 1991. Rincon de La Vieja peak is presently active. One of the biggest benefits of this wild area is the protection of the hydrographic river basins. In this park exists one of the mayor population in wild state of the 'Guaria Morada', the Costa Rican national flower. The Costa Rica Rincon de la Vieja park has a great tourist potential due to the attractiveness it possesses, especially the great beauty and the geological characteristics.
The Rincon de la Vieja Guanacaste National Park is very popular with tourists because it seems the most natural park. Trails are left almost wild and the feeling of being in an extreme natural destination is everywhere. Here you have the real experience of walking in the wilderness and through magical sites where hot steam vents appear behind the bends on the trails. Remember to ask the guides at the entrance for recommendations on which trails to take on a particular day since rain and changes in the weather can make walking through some areas more difficult than others, and rangers may recommend for you to walk certain trails only with a guide to avoid any possible risks such as unexpected hot sprints or geysers, as well as very strong winds that may be dangerous. To get to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park continue North of Liberia for about 4 miles, then turn off the Pan American Highway on an unpaved road along the Colonia Blanca route northeast from Liberia to the Santa Maria park headquarters. A four wheel drive is highly recommended but not completely necessary for this 1.5 hour drive.