When visiting the colossous, it should be noted that although there are some local or informal companies that offer to take visitors to the top of the volcano, this crossing is completely prohibited. The authorized places to visit the volcano are located in the surroundings of the colossus, on the volcano base. It is possible to find natural trails and well-established viewpoints.
If you decide to make the visit independently, you simply go up to the parks and pay an entrance fee (parks use to provide maps of the walking trails). By the other hand, if you visit the volcano as part of a tour, you will receive a much more complete service since it usually includes transportation, the entrance fee to the parks and the company of a guide who will share a lot of historical information of the volcano, as well as the Interpretation of the different ecological and cultural riches of the area.
Authorized places where you can take a walk and visiting the Arenal volcano are several, for example: The Arenal Volcano National Park, 1968 Arenal Park, Mirador and Senderos El Silencio. These are the most popular sites to visit the volcano. By the other hand, It is important to mention that these parks are a little away from La Fortuna downtown, so it is recommended to think about it, it is not advisable to walk from the village since there are no sidewalks and the public bus transportation is quite limited.
If you own a car, you can just drive from downtown towards Arenal Lake by road 142. No more than 20 minutes later you will be passing through the entrances of the parks to visit the Arenal volcano. As another option, you can hire a taxi service or other transport if you do not have your own vehicle.
Arenal Volcano National Park is the official site of the volcano and the only one that is managed by the National System of Conservation Areas. It opened its doors in 1991 and nowadays it protects 12100 hectares of territory including the whole conical structure of the volcano. There are different trails all around the volcano, giving the possibility to do short hikes of 2 or 3 kilometers, as well as some longer from 5 to 7 kilometers.
Perhaps the most popular and eye-catching site within the park is the 1992 Lava Viewpoint. In a clear day you have a spectacular view and the possibility of walking on solidified lava. Among the shortest hikes you can do, we got the Heliconias trail and the path to the viewpoint of the volcanic cone. The most frequented trail for visitors is the ones called “Coladas trail” with a one-mile stretch (round-trip trail), culminating with a visit to the 1992 Lava Viewpoint. By the other hand, it is possible to visit “El Ceibo trail” it is one of the most extensive and also where you have the chance to observe more nature as well as a gigantic tree of Ceiba. This is a 400 years old tree.
A short time ago, in a sector of the park that is located adjacent to the Arenal Lake, it has been opened the newest attraction of the park: The trail and viewpoint “Península”, this is a very pleasant place to observe nature as well as breathtaking views of the lake and Volcano. By the way, Península trail is the most conditioned place for easy access for people with disabilities. The National Park is located 15 kilometers from the town of La Fortuna and opens its doors to visitors every day of the year from 8am to 4pm.
This is a private park of quite extension, located next the Arenal Volcano National Park at the west side of the volcanic structure. Its name is due to the fact that most of the territory of this private park was reached and destroyed by the last giant eruption of the Arenal on July 1968. This place is considered nowadays by many people like the best place to do a hike to the volcano, because the spectacular views in the different viewpoints located within the park.
There are different trails inside the park, some short and others much longer, but the main attraction is to climb a path located on old lava from 1968. It reaches the highest viewpoint of the place and the closest that is allowed to the conical structure of the volcano. It is possible to see a wide panorama of the whole area including the majestic beauty of Arenal Lake and the Cordillera de Tilarán from this viewpoint.
You can also visit this park by Mountain Bike. This is the best known Bike Park in the Arenal area, it owns 15 kilometers of trails for mountain biking. The park is open continuously throughout the year from 7am.
It is located just 12 kilometers from La Fortuna downtown. It is the closest site to go on a hike in the surroundings of the Arenal volcano. It has several trails of different lengths. This park has a rather attractive viewpoint from where it is possible to observe the majesty of the volcano, as well as some of the areas that were covered by lava flows in the past.
All trails go through sections of tropical rainforest making it a beautiful opportunity to admire the natural wealth of the area. El Silencio trail is a site that stands out for the good observation of birds or other species of wild life in general, including monkeys, pizotes, and saínos among others. This place is open all year from from 8am until 6pm.