It might be a trek to get here, but Rincón de la Vieja National Park doesn’t disappoint with its multitude of natural wonders from hot springs and mud baths to refreshing waterfalls and a smoldering volcano. Dominating 140 square km (54 square miles) of the volcano's upper slopes, this tropical rain forest is usually blanketed in clouds, with a short dry transition between January and April. The park has two peaks: Santa María and the barren Rincón de la Vieja. The latter has an active crater, leading park authorities to close some trails, especially during wet season (check the status before you visit).
The wildlife here is diverse, with birds, deer, coyotes, monkeys, and armadillos. There are two main entrances: Santa María and Las Pailas; the latter is the most common place to enter the park and is closest to the trails (there's a $1.50 charge for private road use). The park does not have guides; we recommend the nature guides at Eco Explorer and Tours Your Way. Many of the attractions people visit in Rincón de la Vieja are accessible without actually entering the park, since the ranches that border it also hold significant forest and geothermal sites. (For more information, see the highlighted listing in this chapter.)