Ricon was about 1 hour or so from Liberia Costa Rica. You are traveling on dirt road for quite a while so four wheel drive is recommended. You may be able to get away with a decent two wheel drive car at this park if it isn’t raining, but no reason to risk it. Most people will probably go to the Las Pilas entrance. There is a $10pp fee to enter the park and a $2 (PER PERSON) toll on the dirt road to Las Pilas. All of a sudden you get to a gate and some guy there takes the $2pp, gives you a receipt and opens the gate. It’s free on the way back.
There is also the Santa Maria entrances which is called the park headquarters, but note that by car the entrances are about 2 hours apart.
Once at Las Pilas headquarters there are three major trails to take.
- Summit Trail – Sometimes you can walk to the crater. Unfortunately there was too much volcanic activity when I was there (November 2012) so they closed the trail. It isn’t so easy to find out if it will be closed ahead of time. You could probably call some of the lodges in the area, but who knows if they would answer the phone or tell the truth.
- La Cangeria Waterfall Trail – we did this trail when we arrived in the morning. I think it was about 7km and took us maybe 3 hours roundtrip, but the rangers say it is supposed to take longer (we probably didn’t stop to smell the flowers enough) or were running scared from the snakes. Seriously. We saw 3 snakes on this trail. The first one we didn’t identify at all. The second one (in the picture below) was identified on our camera by the ranger as a “Halloween Snake” that pretends to be the poisonous Coral Snake, but maybe he wasn’t pretending 🙂 (if you can positively id the snake in the picture, please leave a comment, I am curious to know). The third was a decent size green snake that was in our path and coiled up. It scared the crap out of me since I didn’t see it until the last second. It went away quickly and the description didn’t match any of the poisonous snakes in the area, luckily. At the end of the Waterfall trail, is, you guessed it, a waterfall. It was pretty nice, but less impressive than the waterfall at Tenorio, I think.
- Loop around the Pots – I forget the official name for this trail, but it is an easy loop that we took in the afternoon. Maybe another few hours. It goes by a bunch of volcanic steam vents, pools and mud pots. The mud pots were the most interesting, kind of like boiling gravy. Make sure to obey the fences. They will keep you from cooking yourself. See some of the pictures below.
Ricon de la Vieja National Park
Entrance Fee is $10pp for foreigners
For more information about my trip to Costa Rica including restaurants and hotels in Liberia and Tamarindo, trips to the national parks, surfing and more, see my detailed Tamarindo Trip Report.