This National Park is located in the Central Volcanic Conservation Area of Costa Rica that encompasses the area around the Turrialba Volcano in Cartago Province, around 40 miles East of San Jose. Is one of the least visited parks in Costa Rica in spite of the volcano still being active and that last major eruptions were between 1864 and 1868. Turrialba Volcano ruled the valley quietly until, in 2001, it again showed signs of gentle activity. Of its three craters, the central one is the deepest and most active – which measures a massive 164 feet in diameter – presenting two conic structures with sulfuric steam, vapors and fumaroles. In December 2007, the volcano erupted again, spewing gas, vapor and white ash down its mountainside. No animals, crops or humans were hurt during the eruption, but access to the national park was immediately restricted, and scientists descended upon the again-active Turrialba Volcano for research purposes, proving the volcano remained safe for exploration. Though the volcano’s flanks are painted with greenery and dripping with moisture, Turrialba’s summit is best compared to the moon’s cratered rocky landscape. Take note that temperatures fall as altitude increases; the top of the volcano averages a chilly 59°F, and temperatures often dip much lower. Its peak sits at 3328m (10,919ft) above sea level and shares its foundation in 1955 with Irazú Volcano – that’s why they are often called “twin volcanoes” – and protects a 4 km diameter around the volcano. Turrialba is a large, densely forested volcano, but in January of 2009, some acid rain killed a lot of vegetation around the volcano. Three well-defined craters lie in the upper section of a broad summit depression.
It gets its name from early Spanish settlers as Torre Alba or Torre Blanca; its name was changed to Turrialba later. The reason of its name is the observed plumes of smoke pouring from its top. The Turrialba Volcano is the second tallest volcano in Costa Rica after the Irazú. There are three recognizable craters and a number of hiking trails in the park and once on the crater rim there are superb 360° views. The upper slopes are clothed with premontane forest, with rainforest lower down full of ferns, bamboos, orquids and bromeliads. There is a wide variety of wildlife with more than 84 bird species, 11 species of mammals and other wildlife. There is no ranger station, but the Turrialba Volcano Lodge, just outside of the park, offers organized tours. Although it has relatively easy access, the summit can only be reached by foot.
The Turrialba Volcano National Park offers some wonderful exploration opportunities for the adventurous traveler, presents some wonderful summit scenic views, of the lush surrounding landscape including the Poás, Irazú and Barva Volcanoes in the distance. Definitely worth a visit, it is unfortunate that the park is not well developed like its other counterparts.
Getting to Turrialba Volcano National Park:
From San José take the highway toward Cartago and Irazú Volcano. Take the exit toward Pacayas and continue until La Pastora. The road makes a double left, and you can continue until you reach the cafe Danza con Nubes, where you will be able to park.
Take a bus from the route San Jose – Turrialba, which takes about 2 hours (Transtusa, 2556-4233). From here you can rent a car take a taxi to Turrialba Volcano National Park, which takes about 20 minutes.
Location: 71km (44 miles) east of San Jose in Cartago province.
GPS Coordinates: 10.004100,-83.779464 (10°0’14.76″N, 83°46’46.07″W)
Size: 1257ha (4124 acres)
Altitude: up to 3328m (10,919ft)
Schedule: up to 30-minute maximum stay for safety purposes.
Turrialba Volcano National Park Telephone: +(506) 2534-1079 / 2538-6060
Central Volcanic Cordillera Conservation Area (ACCVC) Telephone: +(506) 2268-1587 / 2268-8091
INFOTUR Tourist Information: 1192