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Tenorio Volcano National Park

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Tenorio Volcano National Park was created in 1995 to protect Tenorio Volcano — one of Costa Rica’s six active volcanoes — and the four unique life zones found within the park.

Though Tenorio Volcano National Park is one of the newest national parks in Costa Rica, it is also one of the most beautiful — visitors travel far and wide to not only marvel at Tenorio Volcano but also the stunning turquoise waters of the Rio Celeste and Rio Celeste Waterfall inside the park.

If you’re planning a visit to Tenorio Volcano National Park soon — you won’t be disappointed by the beautiful trails, natural hot springs, and stunning beauty that will greet you beyond the park’s entrance!

Overview of Tenorio Volcano National Park in Costa Rica

Before you visit Tenorio Volcano National Park, here are a few things you should know:


Tenorio Volcano National Park is located in the Guanacaste Province in northern Costa Rica, on the northern side of Lake Arenal and Arenal Volcano. This national park features a cloud forest in the northern part of the park and a lush, thick rainforest in the southern areas.

There are two entrances to Tenorio Volcano National Park — the main entrance, called El Pílon, and a lesser-known entrance at Heliconias Ecolodge Community Project. The ranger station at El Pílon offers public restrooms, drinking water, and first aid facilities. This is also where you’ll find the start of the main trail in Tenorio Volcano National Park — Lago Las Dantas Trail. The “hidden” entrance at Heliconias Ecolodge Community Project offers a series of hanging bridges through the rainforest canopy.


Tenorio Volcano National Park is open from 8 AM to 4 PM daily. The final entry is at 2 PM.

Since it takes about five hours to complete the park’s single hiking trail (with stops along the way), we recommend arriving at Tenorio Volcano National Park as soon as it opens.

Additionally, despite being one of the five most-visited national parks in Costa Rica, Tenorio Volcano National Park only allows 500 tourists inside at a time and a maximum of 1,000 tourists into the park per day. Arriving early (especially during the dry season) will ensure you can enter the park.


Admission to Tenorio Volcano National Park is $12 for adults and $5 for children.
As of August 2023, you have to purchase tickets ahead of time online. You cannot purchase tickets at the entrance. You should also be prepared to pay about $3.50 per vehicle for parking at the ranger station. You do not need to purchase a guided tour to access Tenorio Volcano National Park.

Popular Attractions in Tenorio Volcano National Park

Wondering what there is to do in Tenorio Volcano National Park? From hiking in the cloud forest to spotting unique wildlife — like tapirs and howler monkeys — you’ll find plenty to do in this popular national park.


Tenorio Volcano

Costa Rica is home to nearly 70 active and dormant volcanoes, including Arenal Volcano, Miravalles Volcano, Poas Volcano, Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, and, of course — Tenorio Volcano!

As the park’s name suggests, Tenorio Volcano is the main attraction at this national park. This volcano towers over 6,000 feet and is surrounded by beautiful cloud forests and rainforests. You can even see Lake Nicaragua on a clear day from the summit!


Hiking Trails

Instead of finding several hiking trails in Tenorio Volcano National Park, you will find just one 3.5-mile out-and-back trail — Lago Las Dantas Trail. This challenging and long hike usually takes visitors about five hours, but it offers rewarding views and plenty of points of interest along the way.

This hike will lead you past all the park’s major attractions, including Rio Celeste Waterfall and La Laguna Azul (Blue Lagoon) — a small lagoon with an intense blue color created from a high concentration of natural chemicals. At the end of the hike, you’ll also see El Teñidero, the spot where two rivers meet to form the Celeste River. At this point, the water in the river turns from clear to blue.


Rio Celeste Waterfall

Rio Celeste Waterfall is widely considered to be the most beautiful waterfall in Costa Rica, thanks to the bright blue color of the cascading falls into the pool below. This vibrant blue hue is caused when sulfur and calcium carbonate (caused by the volcanic activity from Tenorio Volcano) mix together.

You’ll pass Rio Celeste Waterfall on the main trail through Tenorio Volcano National Park. You can take a series of stairs down to the waterfall’s base (it will add about 500 feet to the hike to climb down), which we highly recommend. You can snap a photo of the stunning waterfall, but swimming at the base of the falls is prohibited.


Rio Celeste (Celeste River)

The Celeste River (or Rio Celeste) borders Tenorio Volcano National Park, making it one of the can’t-miss attractions in this national park. Although swimming in the park is not permitted, there is a swimming hole (called the “Rio Celeste Free Pool”) that is just a mile or so from the park’s entrance.

At the Rio Celeste Free Pool, you can swim in the vibrant blue waters of the Rio Celeste — one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful rivers. Remember to keep your head above water to avoid ingesting the sulfur or calcium carbonate. There aren’t any rapids here, so it’s a great spot for swimming.


Hot Springs

Tenorio Volcano National Park is filled with tons of bubbling mud pots, thermal geysers, and stunning natural hot springs — like La Laguna Azul — from the volcanic activity within the park.

However, it’s important to note that the hot springs are just for looks — as we mentioned, swimming is not permitted within this national park. This is because most of the park’s hot springs and mud pots can reach boiling temperatures, so they are not safe to swim in.


Wildlife Watching

You will have the chance to see tons of wildlife in Tenorio Volcano National Park, including big cats, like pumas and jaguars; tree dwellers, like sloths and howler monkeys; and amphibians, like dart frogs and red-eyed leaf frogs. If you’re lucky — and particularly if you’re on the northern side of the park — you might even see a tapir. In fact, outside the Osa Peninsula, tapirs are most abundant in this portion of Tenorio Volcano National Park!

Best Time to Visit Tenorio National Park

The best time to visit Tenorio Volcano National Park is during the dry season, from December to April.

Significant rainfall can diminish the vibrant blue hue of the waters in Tenorio Volcano National Park. Because the Rio Celeste Waterfall and the Celeste River are two of the most beautiful attractions in the park, we recommend planning your visit to the park around the rainiest months of the year — September and October — to enjoy the park to the fullest!

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What to Bring to Tenorio Volcano National Park

Here is what we recommend bringing to best enjoy a day in Tenorio Volcano National Park:
  • Hiking Gear — Much of the trail in Tenorio Volcano National Park is unpaved and muddy, so you’ll want to wear closed-toed hiking or tennis shoes. You should also bring a backpack with snacks and water since you’ll be on the trail for several hours.
  • Lightweight Clothing — It gets humid in Tenorio Volcano National Park, so wear lightweight clothing. Shorts and short-sleeve shirts are fine, but remember to apply mosquito repellant on any exposed skin since you’ll be trekking through the rainforest and cloud forest.
  • Rain Jacket — Even during the dry season, it can still rain in Tenorio Volcano National Park. Be sure to bring a rain jacket or a heavy-duty rain poncho (just in case!).

Stay with Special Places of Costa Rica and Visit Tenorio Volcano National Park

Tenorio Volcano National Park is about a 2.5-hour drive from the beaches on the Northern Pacific Coast, like Playa Flamingo and Playas del Coco, making these beach towns the perfect place to stay while still being able to visit Tenorio Volcano National Park on a day trip. Special Places of Costa Rica offers the following tours of Tenorio Volcano National Park that include round-trip transportation from your vacation rental on the Pacific Coast:
  • Tenorio Rainforest Hiking Tour — On this tour, you’ll be able to cross the hanging bridges in Tenorio Volcano National Park with an expert guide who can help you spot flora and fauna, including toucans, sloths, coatis, tapirs, tree frogs, and more!
  • Rio Celeste Waterfall Hike — On this guided tour, you’ll trek through the rainforest and cloud forest to the Rio Celeste Waterfall. After lunch, you’ll stop at a waterfall on the way home, where you can swim in the pool at the base of the falls.

If you have any questions about booking either of these tours or a vacation rental with Special Places of Costa Rica — please contact us at any time. We would be happy to help you!

Other Attractions

After you have visited volcanoes and national parks you may want to observe (or cool off in) some of the many beautiful waterfalls while in Costa Rica. Be sure to view our full list of things to do in Costa Rica to ensure you’re experiencing all of the main attractions while on your vacation.
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