The Tenorio Volcano National Park was created on April 27th, 1995, through Executive Order No. 24240-MIRENEM, in order to protect and conserve forests, biodiversity and cultural features that surround the slopes of Tenorio Volcano, located in the Guanacaste Volcanic Mountain Range between the cantons of Guatuso and Upala in Alajuela, and Cañas, Bagaces and Tilaran in Guanacaste.
Tenorio Volcano National Park was originally declared as the Guanacaste Volcanic Mountain Range Forest Reserve on February 25th, 1976 by Executive Decree 5836-A. On April 24th, 1978, by Executive Order 8473-A, the previous decree is reformed and the Reserve is sectioned into three zones that comprise the land located around the Orosi, Miravalles and Tenorio volcanoes. Later, in 1992 it’s management category changes into Tenorio Protected Zone. Finally, on April 27th, 1995, it is set as Tenorio Volcano National Park, a category that currently has. This park is bound to the Tenorio Protected Zone which has an extension of 5530.98 hectares, forming a forest block of 18,402.51 hectares.
Tenorio Volcano National Park is known for its beautiful forest with a unique fauna, as well as the volcanic relief resulting from the different geology, hot springs and geysers, with a virgin forest that extends to the Tenorio volcano’s summit and Crater Lake. It consists of four volcanic peaks and two twin craters (Montezuma volcano). Both volcanoes are assumed to be dormant, as there is no record of eruptions in recent history. The park is covered by savanna in the lowlands, rain forest in the middle and cloud forest at high levels. From the west slopes flows the Frio and Tenorio Rivers; and from the south slopes the Tenorite and Martyrdom Rivers. From the top you can see the plains of Guatuso and San Carlos, Nicaragua Lake, Caño Negro Reserve and Arenal Lake.
Tenorio National Park is best known for the beautiful Celeste River, whose light blue waters are caused by the emanation of sulfur and the precipitation of calcium carbonates. In fact, among the biggest attractions, there are the Celeste River waterfall and dyers, panoramic views, steam and hot springs and streams within the forest. It also has a nature trail called “Mysteries of the Tenorio”, with a distance of 3,200 m and with an approximate duration of three hours.
Tenorio Volcano National Park has a wide variety of climates, with an average temperature between 15°C (59°F) and 24°C (75°F) and an average annual rainfall of 3,500 mm (140 inches), since the area is influenced by the Atlantic and Pacific slope, which is reflected in the variety of environments, ecosystems and species, distributed in 8 different life zones ranging from montane – humid forest transition to basal forest to dwarf cloud forest. However, most of the park’s climate is influenced by the Caribbean, with rainfall almost throughout the year by the orographic effect, being the months of March and April the driest; however, in certain sectors of the Atlantic slope conditions are presented with a dry season from January to May.
At a middle elevation, montane rain forest and cloud forest dominate, providing perfect habitat for wildlife in the region. This volcanic landscape is also home to the bright tropical dry forest surrounding the monuments of lava.
Tenorio Volcano National Park is known for its beautiful forest with very varied flora. At a medium elevation, stand out heliconias, palms, Costaceae, Marantaceae or Arrowroot family and the Zingiberaceae, or the Ginger family. Among the epiphytes plants are common bromeliads, orchids, Araceae or Arum family and Gesneriaceae. Among the most common trees are the Aguacatillo (Persea vesticula), Cucaracho (Billia hippocastanum), Pilon (Hyeronima alchorneoides), Zapotillo (Couepia polyandra), Caobilla or Fine-leaf Wadara (Couratari guianensis), Guanandi or Cedro Maria (Calophyllum brasiliense), Oak (Quercus costaricensis) and Jicaro Danto or Pepino de Danta (Parmentiera valerii), which is endemic to this mountain range and is characterized by flowers and fruits attached to the trunk and it represents a major food diet for the Tapir.
Among the fauna visitors can find a wide variety of mammals such as howler monkey (Alouatta palliata) and capuchin monkeys (Cebus capucinus), tapirs (Tapirus bairdii), tayras (Eira barbara), anteaters (Tamandua mexicana), collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu), Red Brocket(Mazama americana), agoutis (Dasyprocta punctata), Central American Agoutis (Agouti paca), pumas (Felis concolor), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), margays (Leopardus wiedii), Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi) and jaguars (Panthera onca). Among the birds that inhabit the park are the Three-wattled Bellbird (Procnias tricarunculata), Bare-necked Umbrellabird (Cephalopterus glabricollis), Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias), Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens), toucans (Ramphastidae) and trogons. Similarly, the park has a wide variety of snakes such as the Boa constrictor (Boa constrictor), Coral (Micrurus mosquitensis), the Lora or Parrot Snake (Leptophis ahaetulla), Picado’s Jumping Pitviper (Atropoides picadoi), Central American Bushmaster (Lachesis stenophrys), Eyelash Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii) and Fer-de-lance or Terciopelo (Bothrops asper).
Tenorio Volcano National Park also protects important filtration areas, aquifers and springs that supply water to surrounding communities, which can be classified into three groups depending on the direction of drainage: the Arenal Reservoir, the Bebedero River Basin and the North-Atlantic plains.
Moreover, the park also facilitates the integration of local, national and international communities, into the non-destructive use and management of the area, in a compatible way with the conservation of resources through research, environmental education, ecotourism, volunteering, control and protection activities as well as the generation of environmental services. All this makes this park attractive for national and international tourists who have the opportunity to enjoy great scenic beauty as well as forestry and animal species native to the area.
Tenorio Volcano National Park has a ranger station at the foot of the volcano, providing information about the area; it also has restrooms, drinking water, food (by reservation), shop, laboratory, research station, lodge for up to 20 people (researchers), first aid kit and trails that lead to picnic and swimming areas, as well as trails to Tenorio and Montezuma Volcanoes through the serene cloud forest.
Other nearby Costa Rica parks includes Miravalles Volcano Protected Zone, Las Camelias Lagoon Wildlife Refuge, Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge, Arenal Volcano Emergency Zone Forest Reserve, Arenal Volcano National Park and Corredor Fronterizo Costa Rica – Nicaragua National Wildlife Refuge.
Getting to Tenorio Volcano National Park:
From Alajuela (Juan Santamaria International airport): Take the General Cañas highway towards San Ramón/Puntarenas. Keep driving on the Pan-American Highway to Cañas. About 10 km (6 miles) after Cañas, turn right to Bijagua. About 32 km (20 miles) past Bijagua, you will find the entrance to the Park. Now you can also take the new Caldera Highway. Driving time from San José is about 3.5 hours.
From Liberia (Daniel Oduber Airport): take the road heading towards the city of Liberia. At Liberia’s intersection take the Pan-American Highway to Bagaces/Cañas. About 10 km (6 miles) before Cañas, turn left to Bijagua. About 32 km (20 miles) past Bijagua, you will find the entrance to the Park. Driving time from Liberia is about 1.5 hours.
An alternative route is to take the Pan-American Highway from San Jose to Ciudad Quesada also known as San Carlos, then drive towards Upala, take the left exit to Bijagua, and follow the road approximately for 48 km (30 miles) to the Park’s entrance. Driving time from San Carlos is about 2 hours.
You can take a bus San José – Upala, through Bijagua which takes about 4 hours (Transportes Upala, 2221-3318).
You can also take a bus to Cañas (from various locations, including San Jose, Liberia, Fortuna and Puntarenas) and then another bus from Cañas to Upala, stopping in Bijagua.
You can also take a flight from the Juan Santamaria Airport to the Upala or the Arenal Airport, either with Sansa Airlines or Nature Air every day. From the Arenal Airport you can rent a car and drive to the refuge, which takes about 2 hours.
Location: 16 km northeast from Bijagua, district: Bijagua, canton: Upala, province: Alajuela, Costa Rica. Zone postal code: 21304. The park also covers land from the districts of San Rafael, Cote and Katira from the Guatuso canton, province: Alajuela.
Upala GPS Coordinates: 10°53’46.97″N, 85°01’31.18″W
Size: 12,872 ha (31,800 acres).
Altitude: from 30m to 1916m (100ft to 6286ft) above sea level
Schedule: from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tenorio Volcano National Park Telephone: +(506) 22065369.
Arenal Tempisque Conservation Area (ACA-T) Telephone: +(506) 2695-5908, 2695-5180.
INFOTUR Tourist Information: 1192