Juan Castro Blanco National Park, Costa Rica
One of the lesser explored parks in Costa Rica, Juan Castro Blanco National Park, is positioned in the center of various destinations. This bird-watching haven is located northwest of the Central Valley, with the Poas Volcano to the southeast and Braulio Carrillo National Park to the east. Juan Castro Blanco National Park provides an excellent opportunity to see incredible primary and rain forests, which make up 50% of the park.
Various volcanoes surround the park, making this rugged destination an adventure for anyone. Three volcanoes within the park, the Porvenir Volcano reaching 7,438 ft (2,267 m), the Platanar Volcano at 7,162 ft (2,183 m) and the inactive El Viejo Volcano measuring 6,962 ft (2,122 m) provide a stunning, picturesque skyline as well as thermal hot springs found throughout the park. It is from these and other steep slopes within the park that many of the region's important rivers begin, including the Toro, Platanar, La Vieja, Tres Amigos and Aguas Zarcas.
Stretching out over 35,000 acres (14,258 ha) is an extensive, yet rugged trail system that allows visitors to explore the vast array of flora and fauna. Birders commonly view the black turkey, peacock, falcon and even the quetzal. Mammals found here include monkeys, coyotes, armadillos, raccoons, goats and various felines. Many different reptiles and amphibians are found inside the park including species of frogs, lizards and snakes. Dense vegetation gives way to forests full of quizarra, oak, cypres and cedar. Orchids are also found throughout the park. Archeological discoveries have even shown that the park was the meeting ground for ancient cultures!
Except for the system of trails, no services are provided. The park entrance, which is located east of Ciudad Quesada, can be reached by heading northwest from San Jose through Alajuela, approximately 46 miles (73 km) on Hwy 141. From La Fortuna, Ciudad Quesada is 16 miles (25 km) southeast on Hwy 141. During the rainy season, a 4WD vehicle is strongly recommended.