The area around Gracias is considered one of Honduras's best-kept secrets, as it's home to the pristine Parque Nacional Celaque, one of the largest tracts of cloud forest left in Central America. At 2,849 meters (9,345 feet), the Cerro de las Minas within its confines is the highest peak in Honduras. The name of the park means "box of water" in the Lenca language, after the 11 rivers flowing from this mountain. The park is home to spider monkeys, as well as birds such
as toucans and quetzals. If the Lenca gods are smiling upon you, you might catch a glimpse of jaguars, ocelots, and pumas, but all are painfully shy, so don't count on it.
A 9-km (5½-mi) dirt road leads from Gracias to the park's entrance, more or less a two-hour journey. The visitor center is another half hour beyond that. There is no public transport to the park, but you can hire a car in Gracias. You can stay overnight at the modern visitor center, where you'll find two small cabins with beds, showers, and cooking facilities. The hike to the summit, which takes seven to eight hours, is easier during the dry season, from about February to September. If you want just a taste of the park, you don't need to hike very far from the visitor center to get a sampling, and trails are well maintained here. No matter what the time of year, it gets chilly and wet in the park. Warm, waterproof clothing is a must.