National Parks of Costa Rica

Costa Rican National Parks

Costa Rica located in Central America lies south of Nicaragua and north of Panama. The country has four major mountain ranges, including the Guanacaste, the Tilaran, the Central Volcanic Mountains, and the Talamancas. The Pacific Ocean is on Costa Rica’s west coast and the Atlantic Ocean is on Costa Rica’s east coast. Costa Rica’s land area is only about the size of the state of West Virginia. For such a small country, Costa Rica displays a surprising number of unique geological features such as volcanoes (including some that are active), caves, hot springs, beaches, rivers , mountains created by tectonic movements, islands, waterfalls and jungles. In addition, Costa Rica is traversed by the Continental Divide and contains deciduous forests, rainforests (including lowland, dry montane, pre-montane), cloud forests, palm forests, riparian forests, swamp forests, mangrove swamps, herbaceous swamps, and coral reefs. It is Costa Rica’s great variety of ecosystems that support the country’s vast biodiversity. Costa Rica has more than 200 species of mammals, over 800 species of birds, nearly 400 species of reptiles and amphibians, over 100 species of freshwater fish and more than 30,000 species of insects, including 1000 species of butterflies. The flora of Costa Rica includes more than 10,000 species of vascular plants and at least 1200 species of orchids. Costa Rica supports at least 4% of the world’s total biodiversity.

Costa Rica established its system of national parks in 1970, to prevent the destruction of wilderness areas and preserve the county’s areas of ecological significance for future generations. Costa Rica has one of the highest percentage of protected lands of all countries in the world with over 25 percent of Costa Rica protected. Costa Rica contains 26 national parks, as well as more than 50 wildlife refuges, Pre-Columbian archeological sites, forest reserves and other types of protected lands. Costa Rica’s national parks have important, scientific, educational and recreational uses and are visited by thousands of people each year. These national parks are managed by Costa Rica’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines.

Arenal Volcano National Park



Located in the Tilaran Mountain Range, Arenal National Park is primarily cloud forest and pre-montane tropical forest. The park contains the most active volcano in Costa Rica, last erupting in 1968.

Barbilla National Park

One of Costa Rica’s least-visited national parks, Barbilla National Park is located in the Talamanca Mountain Range.
The park is rich in species of animals an plants, including jaguar, mountain lion, ocelot, tapir,

Barra Honda National Park

This national park, located in the Guanacaste Province, contains a diverse cave system of the 42 caves, of which only 19 have been explored to date. Visitors must be accompanied by a guide to visit this beautiful national park.

Braulio Carrillo National Park

This national park is located northeast of San Jose between the Poas and Irazu Volcanoes of the Central Volcanic Range Conservation Area. The park is named after Costa Rica’s third president. Braulio Carrillo National Park contains three extinct volcanoes, rugged mountains, evergreen forests, steep cliffs and beautiful waterfalls. The La Selva Biological Station, an important scientific research site, is located in nearby Sarapiqui.

Cabo Blanco National Park

This is Costa Rica’s oldest official biological reserve and contains both terrestrial and marine protected areas. A few of the many animals that can be found at Cabo Blanco National Park are the tree squirrel, the tree porcupine, the common long-nosed armadillos, the spider monkey the Howler monkey(Alouatta palliata), the White-face Cebus monkey(Cebus capuchinus) , the White-nosed coati(Nasua narica), the White-Tailed deer(Odocoileus virginianus), the Margay Cat(Felis wiedii), the coyote (Cannis latrans).

Cahuita National Park

Carara National Park

Chirripó National Park

Chirripo National Park is located in the western portion of the La Amistad International Park and contains nearly intact glacial forms, and Chirripo Peak, the highest mountain in Costa Rica is over 12,000 feet.

Cocos Island National Park

Cocos Island National Park is located over 500 kilometers from Cabo Blanco National Park, in the Pacific Ocean, and requires a 36 hour boat ride to reach the park. Cocos Island National Park is a scuba diver’s paradise, with an abundance of marine life, including the hammerhead and the white-tipped sharks.

Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park is home to the largest population of scarlet macaws in Costa Rica. The park also has endangered species of cats, including jaguar, mountain lion, ocelot, jaguaroundi, and margay cat.

Diria National Park

Guanacaste National Park

Irazu Volcano National Park

Located in the Central Volcanic Range Conservation Area, due east of San Jose, Irazu Volcano National Park is sometimes called the “Deadly Powder Keg of Nature”. This active volcano is more than 10,000 feet above sea level and contains four craters at the summit. It is the tallest volcano in Costa Rica and on a clear day, you can see both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans from its peak. This volcano last erupted in 1963, but has remained dormant since 1965.

Juan Castro Blanco National Park

La Amistad International Park

Declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1982 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, the La Amistad International Park includes two of Costa Rica’s national parks, and is the largest protected area in the country. The Chirripo National Park is located in the western portion of the La Amistad International Park and contains nearly intact glacial forms, and Chirripo Peak, the highest mountain in Costa Rica is over 12,000 feet. Tapanti National Park is located in the northern part of La Amistad International Park. The park area is equally split between Costa Rica and Panama.

La Cangreja National Park

Las Baulas National Marine Park

Manuel Antonio National Park

Maquenque National Park

(proposed)

Palo Verde National Park

Piedras Blancas National Park

Poas Volcano National Park

Located in the Central Volcanic Range Conservation Area, northwest of San Jose it is considered one of the most spectacular volcanoes in the country because of its scenic view and its large crater. It was active throughout most of 1994.

Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Located in the Guanacaste Volcanic Mountain Range, Rincon de la Vieja National Park contains the largest existing growth of the purple orchid (Guaria morada), Costa Rica’s national flower. The park is nicknamed “Costa Rica’s Yellowstone” because of its many geysers, hot springs and sulfur mud pots. This national park is also a very important preservation area for the large Central American cats.

Santa Rosa National Park

Tapantí National Park

Tenorio Volcano National Park

Tortuguero National Park

Turrialba Volcano National Park

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