Costa Rica contains some of the most active and fascinating volcanoes in the world. Volcán Arenal is probably the most active volcano in the world. Volcán Irazu is the highest of the volcanoes at 3432 meters. Because of this, many people mistake Irazu as the highest mountain in Costa Rica, though the peaks in the Cordillera Talamanca are higher.
At this time, Arenal is closed to all hikers and climbers, and for good reason! Rincon de la Vieja is occasionally closed as well. The rest of the volcanoes are open to climbers at this time, and all have trails to their summits. This makes Costa Rica a great place to hike and to see active volcanoes without a great amount of effort.
The lower slopes of all the volcanoes are covered with rainforest and are very rich in wildlife. There are many rushing rivers and waterfalls as well. Active volcanism isn’t the only attraction when visiting the Costa Rica Volcanoes.
Eruption of Arenal
Below are the major volcanoes in Costa Rica that are covered on SP. The chart has the volcanoes arranged by geographic location, from north to south.
Rincón de la Vieja
Platanar (Volcán Congo)
6050 BC+/- 1000 years
Crater of Poaz
Introduction to Hiking and Climbing
As stated, all these volcanoes have pretty good trails to the top. See all the individual mountain and route pages for more details. By their shortest routes, the volcanoes of Irazu and Poaz are just very short hikes from the end of paved roads. The volcanoes Rincon de la Vieja, Turrialba, and Barva offer much longer hikes to reach their summits.
As mentioned, Arenal is closed to climbers and hikers, and it is doubtful that it will be open soon. It is very foolish to attempt a climb of Arenal at this time.
In addition to the summits, all the volcanoes offer great hiking on their lower slopes (including Arenal). Some of the hikes are outlined on the mountain pages.
Mud pots on Rincon de la Vieja
December through March is the driest season, and the best time to visit the peaks. February is the driest month of all and has the best weather, but December and January are greener since those months are just after the rainy season.
It is sometimes very wet on the volcanoes, even in the so called “dry season”. There's a reason why Costa Rica is called the land of rain forest and cloud forest! It can be very cool at higher elevations as well.
As an example of extremes, temperatures on the summit of Irazu have varied between –3C (27F) and 17 C (63F). The other volcanoes should be a bit warmer, but expect hot weather at lower elevations, and cool weather at high elevations. Dress accordingly.
Eruption Update Links
Below is a link to current eruption information. If you know of more links, please post here.