Poas Volcano National Park
Considered by most to be one of the most breathtaking sites in the entire country, the Poas Volcano sits high above 14,000 acres (5,666 ha) of various habitats and life zones which make up Poas Volcano National Park (Parque Nacional Volcan Poas). Rising up to 8,885 ft (2,708 m), Poas remains one of Costa Rica's largest and most active volcanoes. This fact alone is enough to attract thousands of visitors per year.
Those who journey here find little adversity in their travels, as it is easily one of the most developed parks in Costa Rica. Following the paved road to the wheelchair accessible visitor's center nearly at the top, it's not hard to see why. Here you can learn about the history of the volcano and get current information about the geomorphic processes that shaped the ecological attraction. There are many other services here which include a cafe to grab a snack, restroom facilities and a very informative museum.
Walking just 15 minutes from the visitor's center, the main crater supplies guests with a spectacular view. At almost a mile in diameter (1.6 km), the crater&s rain-fed sulfuric pool still bubbles and emits smoke into the air, reminding you of its imposing activity. Although the last major eruption was in 1910, visitors can still see geysers explode into the air up to 820 ft (250 m) high. Chances of getting wet are pretty remote as the crater descends almost 1,000 ft (300 m) and is one of the largest active volcanoes in the world. Standing on the rim, visitors often smell the sulfur in the air, which at times has proven to be acidic enough for the park to close. It is from this crater that the effects of acid rain can be seen on the vegetation surrounding the landscape. Around the huge main-crater is the beautifully blue-green colored Botos Lake (Laguna Botos) and on the opposite side, the von Frantzius cone.
Except for the area around the main caldera, the park is full of dense vegetation and small wildlife. Sightings of the 79 species of birds that have been identified inside the protected zone including the quetzal, emerald toucanet, black guan, sparrow, hummingbird and robin are common. Few large mammals are found inside the park, however, smaller, less conspicuous critters such as marmots, coyotes, rabbits, squirrels, snakes, frogs and a plethora of insects are present. The different zones inside the protected area mainly include cloud forest, mountain rain forest and very humid low mountain forest. Hiking along the Botos Trail you arrive at Botos Lake, a beautiful crater with a diameter of 1,312 ft (400 m) that has a beautiful jade color and is frequented by many of the bird species in the park.
Located about 1½ hours from San Jose, Poas is a very popular day trip. Visitors often make the 68 mile (108 km) round-trip journey, which cruises along never-ending fields of coffee and flower farms that line the area around the park. From Ciudad Quesada, Poas Volcano National Park is 72 miles (116 km). The best time to visit is during the morning hours from January to April. Weekends are normally crowded and clouds normally roll in around mid afternoon, making it difficult to enjoy the scenery. But on a clear day it is possible to see both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.